Moderator’s New Year Message
Moderator Rev David Silverside’s New Year Message
“Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
These words of Peter were spoken at a time when our Lord’s popularity was declining. “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (v66). Judas remained outwardly a disciple by pretending so well that he was able to influence the gullible disciples (Matthew 26:8-9; John 12:4-6). When Christ said one of them was a traitor, the disciples said, “Lord, is it I?” (Matthew 26:22). The pretence continued until he betrayed Christ with a kiss, Satan temporarily giving him the evil courage he needed to go through with the betrayal (John 13:27). The visible Church on earth is subject to mixture.
All the while, the resentment was building up in Judas as Christ persisted in not being the kind of Messiah he wanted – perhaps one who would vindicate Israel as righteous before the world and throw off the Roman yoke (John 6:15). Ultimately, of course, when he had fulfilled Satan’s aim, Judas despaired and killed himself. Though there are unique aspects to Judas, all sin is a disappointment. Celebrities who “have it all” tend to come to disillusionment more quickly, having the means to go through the list of sinful pleasures more rapidly than more pedestrian types who live their lives aspiring. Sin does not ultimately satisfy even those who love it. It is also irrational even in the most intelligent of creatures; hence sin is the Biblical idea of foolishness. Satan, having failed to tempt the Lord Jesus into seeking a cross-less Messiahship (Matthew 4:1-11), cannot but want to destroy the Christ of God. Many spend their lives with various forms of sin jockeying for position.
Only the Lord “satisfieth the longing soul and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9). Blessedness for men is only in the ever-blessed God. How futile to look elsewhere – “Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength…” (Psalm 52:7). When a man is born of the Spirit, he now wants what he needs.
So Peter sees the uniqueness of Christ – “to whom shall we go” – there is no one and nowhere else. He sees that Christ alone can give the words of eternal life. No doubt his understanding was weak at this stage, but his heart was toward God and Christ. A willingness to depend only on Christ, the Saviour of sinners, for acceptance as righteous before God, is an initial effect of the new birth. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29). We also begin to love Christ, not as we should nor as we will, but we do love him.
As we mark the end of another calendar year, we can reflect that the only thing that lasts is union with Christ, fellowship with Christ, what is done in love to Christ and fellowship with God’s people in Christ. The plans of the unbeliever have an end. “In that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:4) as he faces the wrath of God for ever; the just deserts of his sins and with no Saviour. We should not envy him. He has nothing that lasts into the next world but his guilt before God. God has delivered us through Christ from the guilt and the bondage of sin. Let us not be slow to speak well of Him, and if the world asks us, “What is thy beloved more than another beloved…?”, let us be sure we have an answer, “My beloved is… chiefest among ten thousand…he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (Song of Solomon 5:9, 10, 16).