At the Feet of Jesus: In Our Personal Necessity

Taken and adapted from, “The Feet of Jesus in Life, Death, Resurrection, and Glory”
Written by, Philip Bennett Power


“And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house…”–Luke 8:41

“For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet…”–Mark 7:25

“Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” –John 11:32

WE have in Holy Scripture something about the feet of Jesus…

…as regards His life on earth. His death. His resurrection life, and His life in glory.We are at present concerned only with incidents which refer to those feet, while He lived and moved as a man amongst men, in what we might call the ordinary walks of every-day human life.

No doubt, what meets us is very extraordinary, but the scenes in which we find it embrace the usual places, people, and things of daily life.

In the Syrophoenician, we see the trial and victory of Faith –Jesus allowing Himself to be overcome. In Mary after Lazarus’ death, we find the venting of personal sorrow ; in the Samaritan of gratitude. In the anointing woman we have seen personal love and ministry; in the woman sitting at His feet we have appreciation; in the man sitting, the recognition of the place of rest. The leper who fell down before Jesus gives us the expression of terrible personal need; and Peter at His knees, the abasement of felt personal demerit.

One great beauty of the Bible, and one of the means by which it takes such deep hold of us is, its personalities; our natures crave what is personal, and find it here; they fix upon it; they take special comfort from it. We cannot take in the woe of masses; we have no capacity for doing so –it is well that we have not. A single case with all its particulars can be realized; we enter into it, and it affects us more than any amount of anguish, no matter how great, which is but a confused mass. We read of so many thousands being wounded in some dreadful war, but let there be in the article which states this, an incident of individual suffering, and the human mind instinctively fixes itself on that.

It is a blessed thought that all masses of misery resolve themselves into their component parts –into individual cases before God. The great mind is analytical –it goes into particulars and details. And here –much of the soul’s life –ay, and of the body’s life too –might be said to be analyzed at “the feet of Jesus.” Here we have the feet of Jesus the place for agonizing personal suppliants –for the stating and pleading of individual need.

In the three cases, which we have grouped together here, we might be said to have to do entirely with ” death.” In the case of the Syrophoenician woman, there was a living death –a life almost worse than death. In that of Jairus, there was present death –first threatened, then actual. In that of Mary, there was the finished woe; that dear body was dead –it was gone. As long as the body remains with us there is something to look at –something to be done –the mind feels there is something yet to come; but when that is taken away, there remains nothing more– the woe is consummated –ah, me! It is well that there is such a place as the feet of Jesus.

We met with multitudes and passive misery, but here we meet with single cases,where all is concentrated and active; and individual effort and energy are put forth in the highest degree. We shall first consider the case of Jairus.

Here I find him –a ruler of the synagogue, at “the feet of Jesus!” 

What brought him there? A threefold sorrow–a mingled, a concentrated, a comprehensive one. It was mingled –the daughter’s and his own; she lay a-dying; and forasmuch as his heart was bound up in hers, that heart might be said to be a-dying also.

Mingled sorrow might be said to be the higher sorrow; it is not purely selfish; it has to do with others’ woe; it does not exclude ‘self;’ to be mingled, it must give ‘self’ its place; but it has to do with another also.

And this mingling is very close –here it is a father for an only daughter, and because of an only daughter; the two thoughts could be separated, but they are not meant to be so. So is it with many of the sorrows which God appoints for us ; our feelings for our dear ones and our own personal feelings are interwoven so as to become one.

But what we are principally concerned with here is the fact that, this sorrow was brought to the feet of Jesus. And surely that was its appropriate place; because Jesus Himself was a man of mingled sorrows. He was not only a man of sorrow, but of sorrows ” He tasted this kind as well as others; it is included under the head of His “acquaintance” with grief. The cup which the Father had given Him in Gethsemane was a mingled cup; those tears at the grave of Lazarus were mingled tears.

So, then, Jesus was the very one to whom a trouble like that of Jairus, or of the Syrophoenician woman, could be brought; His feet were their proper place. And here let us bring our sorrows in their mingled form –let us not seek to scatter them; and look for comfort for one part here, and for another part there. Jesus, by His own experience, will understand the component parts of our grief.

And He will not be displeased because we seek relief for our own sorrow, as well as for the one on account of whom we are in grief. Personal sorrow is recognized; the same God who meant it to be felt, meant it also to be eased; and the place for ease by His appointment is the feet of Jesus.

I next note this as a concentrated sorrow –she for whom Jairus had come to the feet of Jesus was an only daughter. This sorrow, though mingled, was not diffused; it savored much of an essence –an essence of woe. If the only daughter went, then all was gone. This woe was well defined indeed. And in this aspect of it, it found its fittest place at Jesus’ feet. His own course of sorrow was well defined enough; He was continually coming into contact with facts, often in relation to His own closest disciples and friends, which grieved Him; He could have well-defined feeling for well defined trial.

Let us remember this, for we are often thinking that our particular trial is infinitely more to us, than it is to Christ; that He does not see it to be as large as it really is; that He cannot feel it as we feel it, or understand it as we do; that His sympathies are so scattered and diffused. He cannot gather them into the focus of our one grief.

Jesus can cause the rays of His sympathy to converge on one point, until He makes it glow and burn with a light and heat of love.

We must not fear then, of being intrusive.  Or say, ” Why should I think that my sorrow which is so great to me, should be great to Him?” He will recognize it as being what it is to us. Even if it be an exaggerated sorrow –made so from our nervousness, still to us it is real, and therefore, it is so to Him.

An “only daughter;” here is a center, a pivot, something around which the dried-up heart would grind in days and nights of sorrow.

And are there not some hearts which have unoiled centers of sorrow, around which they unceasingly grind? They perform the one dull round of grief” –the eye so fixed on one central point, that it soon becomes incapable of taking in anything else. Let it be brought to the feet of Jesus, that is the only place for dealing with sorrow like this. Remember the picture painted for you here– it is that of one deep sufferer, about one sorrow, before one Helper.

We must glance at one more aspect of this sorrow. It was comprehensive. Like all, or almost all those connected with death, it took in a past and a future. Oh! the wide-spreading comprehensiveness of death –that circle with so sharp and well-defined a point for a center, with so large and vast-embracing a sweep for a circumference.

Jairus brought a past to the feet of Jesus –a past full of endearment. For twelve years this child had been creeping around his heart, ever budding, ever throwing out fresh tendrils, which found their clinging place around that heart. For twelve years had she nestled inside it, so that his very life was as it were the enfolding of another. It may be that father with child, and child with father, they mingled their lives together. Perhaps, this only daughter had helped to keep this father fresh and young, by the sweet unconscious ministry of youth –for children minister to us by their toys, and laughter, and the fresh dew upon their early morning life; perhaps, he had often sat, and with sweet contentment watched the mother being reproduced in the child; who knows into what depths this “perhaps” will travel, if we let it go forth unrestricted into twelve years of life with an only child? It is said that fathers love their girls, and mothers their sons, the most; and whatever is that peculiarity of affection, it is beautiful to see how Jesus meets its sorrow, for He raised Jairus’ only daughter; and the widow of Nain’s only son. He not only gave them back their all, but a peculiar all; and, doubtless. He knew that He was doing so, for He is delicately skilled in the peculiarities of grief.

It was with such a past –a past with a great circle, and that, crowded with the imagery of love, that Jairus, the father, fell at Jesus’ feet. But that was not all. He knows little of death-sorrow who imagines that it is all connected with the past. Far from it. The death-sorrow is a stand-point upon life’s road with a past brightly peopled, with a future darkly blank.

I bear in mind the almost indignation with which a friend of mine –advanced in the life of faith, received a letter on her husband’s death condoling with her on her “misery.” To her, full of Christian hope, and well knowing that God had yet for her a life to be lived for Him, full also of all the consolations that the Gospel can give, the word was out of place –she felt it was a wrong to God; but consolations like these –certainly those high ones of the Gospel, this ruler had not; and so we may ponder how blank and void, how unseasoned and lustreless was that prospect which now lay before him.

The father had probably looked forward to much; he had daydreamed of what that girl would be to him in his old age; a father’s heart had often taken to love’s speculations, and built castles in the air, which now lay ruined at his feet –ruined, not by slow decay of time, but, as it were, by a lightning flash. The girl was then a-dying –to all intents and purposes dead, unless Jesus would come at once and help; and Jairus embodying in himself these varied forms of sorrow –the mingled, the concentrated, and the comprehensive –fell with them all at Jesus’ feet.

Up to the present, we have seen Jairus only as a father; but the narrative brings him before us in another character also –we are told he was “a ruler of the synagogue.” And it is important to note this with reference to our present subject, ” the feet of Jesus.” A ruler of the synagogue, a great man, is before the One who was called the carpenter’s son, and at His feet.

True need brings us very low. It brought down that ruler; it has done the same to many a one since. The rich, the honored, the intellectual, have been brought there. They might have questioned with Jesus, and admired Him, and said, “Thou art a teacher come from God,” and continued just as they were; but nothing, save a deep sense of need, would have brought them to the feet of Jesus.

All adventitious circumstances –all rank, riches, intellect, are swept away before the avalanche of urgent and tremendous need. Oh! how small these things seem in the presence of overwhelming need –especially when they come on the platform on which Death is already standing. That form makes an impertinence of them all. Our fancied personal importance becomes nothing there.

“A ruler” at Jesus’ feet was a triumph of reality. And whither have we been brought, and what has “the real” done for us; or rather, with us? For there is a great difference between these two. Something must be done with us, before anything is done for us; we must be brought to the feet of Jesus, there to receive a life gift –a gift, which shall be a victory over death.

Let us take one more thought before we close. When this ruler was at Jesus’ feet he besought Him “that He would come into his house; for he had one only daughter, twelve years of age, and she lay a-dying.”

The father invited Jesus to come into the very place, and scene, and home of sorrow. Into the place so lately filled with joy, but which was now stilled; into the recesses of home life where everything which was associated with his departing joy was centered, there the ruler of the synagogue would bring Him who was in truth a higher ruler than himself, for He had power even over death.

We do not like the world or outsiders to see our deepest and most sacred sorrow,especially when it is fresh; but if our heart has apprehended Jesus aright, we shall be ready to ask Him. His will be no look of curiosity, no cold taking in of circumstances in which He has no interest; where ever He comes, whenever He speaks or looks, it is always with a purpose.

And let us be circumstantial in the detail of our sorrow. Jairus told the Lord that he had one only daughter, and that she was twelve years old, and that she lay a-dying. All that he said would be helpful towards exciting Jesus’ interest and moving His pity; which perhaps, he, who knew not Jesus’ heart fully, would have thought necessary. We know that for this purpose it is not needed; still it is a good thing to enter into particulars with the Lord. It is treating Him with confidence; the very feeling that He will be interested is honoring to Him. Every particular that we bring before Him, He will note; and act with reference to it too.

So then, when we analyze this sorrow of the ruler, we see that there was enough to bring him (ruler though he was) to the place where we find him here –the place for everyone in all sorrowful times, at “The Feet of Jesus.”

When Luther lost his daughter

Lucas_Cranach_d.Ä._-_Der_Tod_der_Magdalena_LutherLuther was called to part with his daughter Magdalena at the age of fourteen.

She was a most endearing child, and her personality united the firmness and perseverance of the father with the gentleness and delicacy of the mother. When she grew very ill Luther said, “Dearly do I love her; but, O my God, if it be Thy will to take her hence, I resign her to Thee without a murmur.” He then approached the bed, saying to her, “my dear little daughter, my beloved Magdalena, you would willingly remain with your earthly father; but if God calls yon, you will also willingly go to your Heavenly Father.” She replied,.“Yes, dear father, it is as God pleases.”

“Dear little girl!” he exclaimed; “oh how I love her! The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He then took the Bible, and read to her the following passage: —“Thy dead men shall live; together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust, for the earth shall cast out the dead.” He then said, ”My daughter, enter thou into thy resting-place in peace.” She turned her dying eyes toward him, and said, with touching simplicity, “Yes, father.” When her last moments were near, she raised her eyes tenderly to her parents, and begged them not to weep for her. “I go,” said she, “to my Father in heaven,” and a sweet smile irradiated her dying countenance.

Luther threw himself upon his knees, weeping bitterly, and fervently prayed God to spare her to them. In a few moments she expired in the arms of her father. Katherine, unequal to repressing the agony of her sorrow, was at a little distance, perhaps unable to witness the last long-drawn breath.

When the scene was closed, Luther repeated fervently, “The will of God be done! Yes, she has gone to her Father in heaven.” Philip Melanchthon, who, with his wife, was present, said, “Parental love is an image of the Divine love, impressed on the hearts of men; God does not love the beings He has created less than parents love their children.” When they were about putting the child into the coffin the father said, “Dear little Magdalena, I see thee now lifeless, but thou wilt shine in the heavens as a star. I am joyous in spirit, but in the flesh most sorrowful. It is wonderful to realize that she is happy, better taken care of, and yet to be so sad.”

Then turning to her mother, who was bitterly weeping, he said, “Dear Katherine, remember where she has gone. Ah! She has made a blessed exchange. The heart bleeds, without doubt; it is natural that it should; but the spirit, the immortal spirit, rejoices. Happy are those who die young. Children do not doubt, they believe; with them all is trust; they fall asleep.”

When the funeral took place, and the people were assembled to convey the body to its last home, some friends said they sympathized for him in his affliction. “Be not sorrowful for me,” he replied, “I have sent a saint to heaven.”  

Later, Luther wrote to a dear friend, “I believe the report has reached you that my dearest daughter Magdalena has been reborn into Christ’s eternal kingdom. I and my wife should joyfully give thanks for such a felicitous departure and blessed end by which Magdalena escaped the power of the flesh, the world, the Turk and the devil; yet the force of our natural love is so great that we are unable to do this without crying and grieving in our hearts, or even without experiencing death ourselves. The features, the words and the movements of the living and dying daughter remain deeply engraved in our hearts. Even the death of Christ… is unable to take this all away as it should. You, therefore, give thanks to God in our stead. For indeed God did a great work of grace when he glorified our flesh in this way. Magdalena had (as you know) a mild and lovely disposition and was loved by all… God grant me and all my loved ones and all my friends such a death – or rather such a life.”

Falling Asleep in Jesus

Karl Kung - The Sick Child[One of the things that I have learned as a father, is that when your child is hurt, the whole family is wounded.  Things at home come to a standstill.  Times slows to a crawl. Pleasures fade. Interests dwindle to nothing. Work doesn’t matter. Food has no taste.  Both the hearts of mother and father are so deeply involved with the child that nothing else seems to exist. 

Have you ever thought about when our heavenly father sent the dear Jesus from the glory of heaven to the sin poisoned atmosphere of our world, and for no other purpose but to die?  Don’t you know that after the incarnation, heaven must have become very quiet?  For a committed, loving parent, there is parental happiness when a healthy child comes into the world. There is celebration. But when our child is sick or hurt or lost, our deepest fears come surging to the surface, and we ask ourselves, “where is God?”  It was with us and our hurt in mind, that our heavenly father specifically sent Jesus to our world for one thing, and that was to die for our sins.  He did this so that we could live.  Jesus’ life and death was the only antidote in the universe for sin.  Sometimes, when we say those words it almost comes out sounding glib, or flippant.  But for those who are going through that fiery trial, that fiery trial of death, either with yourself or with someone dearly close to you, there is nothing that brings consolation except the knowledge and the hope of the resurrection.  Jesus died for you. He died for your loved one, so that if you will only believe and accept him as both Lord and Savior, you may have the certainty of life beyond the grave. You may have that certainty of life in the beautiful paradise called heaven.  Heaven is a paradise, and it is a paradise because Jesus is there. 

If you are one of those who are right now, hurting and scared, and in some way, going through that fiery trial of death, remember that if you have accepted Jesus into your heart and life, he is right there with you. He will never leave you, he will be with you every step of the way.  And when you reach that other side, you will see his face, and you will behold his glory forever. “May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  –MWP]

In all the literature of sacred experience…

…that has grown around that wonderful child’s prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  I have seen few narratives more affecting than this. It was related long ago by a pastor of St John’s Church, New York.

Part of the wall of a burnt house, he said, had fallen on a six or seven-year-old boy, and terribly mangled him. Living in the neighbourhood, I was called in to see the stricken household.  “The little sufferer was in intense agony. Most of his ribs were broken, his breast-bone crushed, and one of his limbs fractured in two places. His breathing was short and difficult He was evidently dying. I spoke a few words to him of Christ, the ever-present and precious Friend of children, and then, with his mother and an older sister, knelt before his bed. Short and simple was our prayer. Holding the lad’s hand in mine, I repeated the children’s gospel: “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

He disengaged his hand from mine, and folded his. We rose from our knees. His mind began to wander. He called his mother, “I’m sleepy, mamma, and want to say my prayers.” “Do so, my darling,” replied the sobbing mother.”

“Now I lay me—down–to sleep; I
Pray thee, Lord, my soul—to keep—If

…and then he was beyond the river of death.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;
–John 11:25