By Henry F. Klassen
The question before us is "Master, where dwellest Thou?" The most important question for the sinner surely is, "What must I do to be saved?" If these lines should come before anyone who is still unsaved, this should be his first question. A saint, however, cannot have a more vital inquiry than what we have before us, "Master, where dwellest Thou?" Not, "Where is my field of labour or occupation," important as that may be, but "Lord, where dwellest Thou? Where dost Thou feel at home here on the earth?" This is not a question of works and activity, but of companionship.
This question came to two of John's disciples, and it is very interesting to notice how this question was raised in their hearts through John. In verse 29 of our chapter we read these words, "The next day John seeth Jesus coming to him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." That was John's testimony to the Lord Jesus, or we may say, his introduction of Jesus as the "Lamb of God" to the public.
In verse 35 John makes the same statement, only he leaves out the sin question. He does not say "...which taketh away the sin of the world." The sin question was settled in verse 29. This was "...the next day after." Another day had come which would represent another period of time. Here John was not busy preaching as in verse 29. Rather, do we read, "The next day after John stood... And was looking upon Jesus as He walked." Blessed occupation! Just to stand and look at Jesus. "The next day" of verse 29 was past for John. The sin question had been settled. E could now stand in simple occupation with the Lord Jesus. "The next day after" had arrived for John. Has this day arrived for you, that you can stand and look at Jesus? Has He filled your heart and mind so as to displace everything else?
Looking at Jesus as He walked drew forth these precious words from John's heart, which have touched and moved the hearts of many saints. "Behold the Lamb of God." Such a state of soul was contagious. It was bound to be so. It transmitted itself to others. The two disciples heard him speak, though he really did not speak to them, they only heard him. They overheard him, as it were. He was speaking to himself, or meditating audibly. But, oh, the effect it had upon them! They left John and followed Jesus. If the Lamb of God meant so much to John, they would like to know Him better. Has your attitude toward Jesus, your love for Him, and your devotedness to Him ever caused others to follow Him? Or has the contrary been the case?
Then, yes, then, "Jesus turned." It touched His heart. He felt it that they were seeking souls, and "He turned and saw them following." He was always ready to graciously meet them in their holy desire, and He did so here by asking them, "What seek ye?" That question might have been, "Whom seek ye?" Instead of "What seek ye?" He knew what was in their hearts, but He would not put the words in their mouth; rather, He would draw out their hearts and let them express their desire in their own words, which they did by asking, "Master, where dwellest Thou?" And that brings us to our subject and theme, His Dwelling Place.
Oh, what a thought! You may have often seriously considered the question of your calling, or service for the Lord, and found an answer, but have you ever earnestly asked. "Lord, where dwellest Thou?" And received the answer as did these two disciples?
But does He who is a Stranger and a Pilgrim in His own creation, He, who said, "The Son of man hath not where to lay His head," have a dwelling place here? If so, we, like the two disciples of John, would like to know where that place is. So we ask, "Master, where dwellest Thou; in which hall, and what is the name of the place?" These are questions which many dear saints who are in confusion, are asking today. Can we find the answer for such an inquiry? Indeed we can! Our gracious Lord has answers for all the questions of every honest heart seeking light.
The answer is very simple and brief and may not suit some of us. We find it in these three words, "Come and see." That answer may sound almost incomplete and abrupt, but how full of meaning, how suggestive it is! The Lord surely was staying in some real place, in a home or house, and could have given them the exact geographical location so that they could have had correct intellectual knowledge of the place and walked right to it, even ahead of Him, and then be able to tell others just where to find the place. The Lord gave Ananias the address of Saul in plain language. He told him the name of the street which is called Straight, and the home was Judas' house. He told Cornelius where to find Peter. There must be a spiritual meaning in all this and a lesson for us.
If He had given them the address in plain words, they would have found the house, but they still might not have known "His Dwelling Place." Now they had to come with Him to see the place. "Come and see." This divine information which Jesus gave them is not for the mere human mind and intellect, or for the natural man, but for faith and for one who desires His companionship. "Come and see,"- know it experimentally and by faith in the heart. That is the thought, I believe.
These disciples were humble and simple enough to come, and they were not disappointed, for they "... Saw where He dwelt." And where was it? They do not tell us the name and address. It still remains an unknown place (that is, in a spiritual sense) and it has been an unknown place for most of God's people for nearly two thousand years. His people lost sight of this place when they turned away from Paul. (II Tim. 1:15)
How few, how very few, know "His Dwelling Place" today. Do you, dear brother, know it? Have you ever given it a serious thought? As far as the professing Church is concerned, Jesus is standing outside knocking, and has no dwelling place there. (Rev. 3:20)
Having found the place, it is added, they "...abode with Him that day." Mark well, it does not say, they abode in that place, but "with Him." It is the Person and not the place, nor is it even Brethren. Their arrival was so important that the Holy Spirit took notice of it and recorded it. It was the tenth hour of the day. That day was almost over, but what was left of it counted for the Lord. They were now in His company and that is not without significance. There were only two more hours left of that important day, which surely marked a turning point in their lives. Would this not suggest to us that the day represented here is almost past? Therefore, let us abide with Him "till He come."
And as there are so many dear saints yet scattered and in confusion amongst all the divisions and names, should not our attitude towards our Lord and Saviour and our affections for Him awaken a desire in their hearts for His companionship as was the case with these disciples, that they also might ask, "Master, where dwellest Thou?" And if so, what will our answer be? What can we tell them? Can we say, Come with us to this or that place? Considering our failure, our low state, lack of love and spirituality, we have little to say or to offer in the way of recommendation.
Still, there is an answer, which is safe. We can do what Philip did when Nathanael, in unbelief and almost sarcasm, asked him, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Poor Philip did not know what to say in defense. That is the way we often feel. But Philip did not argue. He did not say, Yes, or No. He adopted the Lord's own language, and repeated the answer He had given him, "Come and see." That was grace and wisdom. That answer is safe. It does not put us forward, it does not say what we are or claim; it leaves us out of the picture and puts the responsibility upon those who may be seeking light and guidance.
Yet someone may ask, "How can I know His Dwelling Place?" "What are some of the marks whereby it may be known." No doubt several characteristics could be given, but it is so simple and clear that one mark in one Scripture from the Lord's own lips is enough. We all know it by heart, "...where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20.
Here again it is not the place that is emphasized, but the Person, or more correctly, the Name, which stands for the Person and all that the Person is.
He has given us His Name during the time of His absence, until we will be in His presence. In the meantime, it is where two or three are gathered in His name. The "where" describes the place. It could read, wherever.
True, wherever these two's and three's are gathered together, that is a literal and a geographical place; it may be in a room, in a hall, or under the blue sky. However, it is not the room or the building that is His Dwelling Place, but the persons, that is, true saints who meet there. The building has no meaning like it had in the preceeding dispensation. It does not say "...where two or three are gathered together in My name there am I in the midst of it," but "in the midst of them." "Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples (or rooms, or halls) made with hands..." Acts 7:47. It is "neither in this mountain nor yet in Jerusalem" John 4:21.
"In the midst" suggests nearness also, and equality in nearness. In His Dwelling Place, all are equally near- precious thought! Though they all may not be equal in the enjoyment of it.
Every true believer is individually indwelt by the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 6:19) All the saints collectively as the body of Christ, are "...an habitation of God through the Spirit," unconditionally and regardless of their association and name. Eph. 2:22. But surely that is not the case in Matthew 18:20. Here we have a condition that is stated in unmistakable terms, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name there am I in the midst of them." Nor does the Lord say, There the Holy Spirit will be present," though that is true, but "there am I in the midst of them." And here we can read, "in My name," or "Unto My name." If "in My name" then He is our only authority, if "unto My name" then He is our only gathering center. Both are true. Of course it is needless to add here, just to use the phrase "in Thy name" (as nearly all do) does not make it in His Name, but to own His Name alone and to act as He would act so that He can sanction our action, that makes it real. This would mean nothing less than to own only one authority and Head, and to recognize only one gathering center, and only one fellowship as He has only one table, which like Israel's alter (I Cor. 10:18) is the expression of fellowship.
Much more could be said about these solemn yet precious words, but may it suffice only to repeat in closing, "Come and see" where they reject every other name, good or bad, and accept only one Name, His Name, not only for salvation, but for authority, and as the gathering center, and you have found "His Dwelling Place."