Turn To Christ And Respond To His Saving Hand

I sat reading J.C. Ryle’s book ‘Steps Toward Heaven’. He has a section in this book where he begins five consecutive paragraphs with the words, ‘Cling to Christ’. I found myself wanting to obey his admonition more and more with every mention of it.

In my thoughts I considered Mary in John 20:16. In it is a story about a woman named Mary whose heart wanted to cling tightly to Christ. When she realized that Christ had been risen from the dead and the he was right there in front of her, she fell down and clung to His feet tightly.. She did not waste the opportunity. She did not squander that moment. When she realized that Jesus stood before her she clung to Him as tightly as she could.

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’. She turned and said to to Him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’John 20:16

In my devotions earlier today I read about another group of people who surrounded Jesus and wanted to touch Him. In fact, we are told that this large crowd was pressing in so hard that they threatened to crush Him. In Mark 3:9-10 we read, “And He told His disciples to have a boat ready for Him because of the crowd, lest they crush Him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around Him to touch Him.

We can all understand the impulse of such a crowd to press in upon Christ to have an opportunity to touch Him and to be healed. They had seen Him heal so many others and they too desperately needed healing of their diseases. Therefore, they sought to touch Him. In that moment they were oblivious to the fact that Jesus was being crushed. Jesus, however, tells his disciples to ready a boat for them to get into.

Mark 3:11 says, “And whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they fell down before Him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’” Mary was a woman who knew exactly what this type of moment would have been like. In Luke 8:2 and in Mark 16:9 we read, “...Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.

Many people in that crowd touched Jesus and were healed and delivered. Any of us who were in their condition would have sought Jesus out and attempted to touch him. I wonder, however, of all of those people if there was any who would seek to cling to Him because of their great need for a savior who could save them from their many sins? We know that Mary did, but was there anyone else?

Recently, I shared the gospel with someone. In the end, at least in that moment, this man was content to touch Jesus for a physical need but he did not want to cling to Him because of his greatest need – his need to be saved from His sins. Far too many people are content to simply say,

  • ‘I had an encounter with Christ when I was a child.’

  • ‘I know of Christ from my catechism.’

  • ‘I went to church at one time in my life.’

  • ‘I will go to heaven because I was baptized a while ago.’

So few will ever cling to Christ like Mary did. So few will cling to Christ the way that J.C. Ryle was admonishing people to do. Therefore, Ryle pleaded with them to…

  • Cling to Christ, and never forget our debt to Him. ‘Sinners you have been, even at your best, from the day of your conversion. Sinners you will find yourselves to your dying hour, having nothing to boast of in yourselves. Then cling to Christ.

  • Cling to Christ, and make use of His atoning sacrifice every day.

  • Cling to Christ, show the world how much you love Him.

  • Cling to Christ, have high thoughts of the atonement made by His blood upon the cross.

  • Cling to Christ, and make much of the old foundational truths concerning salvation by His blood.

We often laugh at someone who has done something ‘out of the box’ and then seemingly failed at it. We tend to look down upon those who have taken a risk and then found themselves seemingly rebuked for it. So many of us walk through life playing it safe and being cautious.

We have at times thought of Peter in this way. We think of him as he sank into the water during the storm. But then someone will wisely say, ‘At least he had the faith and boldness to get out of the boat. None of the other disciples did!

Similarly, we may tend to think of Mary and say, ‘She was scolded by Jesus for clinging to Him to tightly before He had ascended to the Father.’ Yet, I imagine there will be a day when we are all in heaven and the Lord will say, “Why did most of you not cling to me in your life like Mary did?”. We will have missed our opportunity to draw near to Him for more than a passing touch; we will have missed our moment to fall at His feet and to cling to Him tightly.

Oh, how greatly I would like to cultivate a heart that will cling to Christ even when I am reproved. This is the way of wisdom throughout scripture. Many will follow Christ if He will not preach any sermons that bring correction and reproof.

May we be those who will seek the Lord and respond to His reproof. We are given this promise, “If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my Spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” (Proverbs 1:23)

Yet, we must consider the warning that comes in the very next verse. “Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.” (Proverbs 1:24-27)

Instead of turning and clinging to Christ we often continue in our sins. Our sins then bring calamity and terror upon us. Instead of coming to Christ and clinging to Him, we continue in the very sins that will strike us with calamity and bring upon us anguish. We get a pretty clear picture of this in Proverbs 23:29-35,

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”

Gracious Lord, give me a heart that will turn away from sin and cling daily to Christ. May the same hand that picked Mary up off of the ground, and the same hand that lifted Peter out of the water, lift me up out of my sins too. Let me not be like the fool who ignores your hand (Proverbs 1:24). Let me hear your words, turn to you and by faith cling to your mighty saving hand.

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