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Real life

By 17th April 2020Uncategorised

 “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
John 17:1-5

Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a nineteenth century Presbyterian Minister and Missionary. He dedicated his life to Jesus, and was a tireless, profoundly spiritual evangelist. There are many accounts, by those who knew him, that indicate M’Cheyne seemed to carry with him the very presence of our Saviour, wherever he went. A fellow minister wrote of Robert:

“..his living presence was a rebuke … for I never knew one so instant in season and out of season, so impressed with the invisible realities, and so faithful in reproving sin and witnessing for Christ.”

Robert M’Cheyne died of Typhus, in 1843, at just twenty-nine. Yet it has been claimed that he achieved more for Jesus in his seven years of ministry, than many could achieve in a lifetime. 

He remains well-qualified, then, to advise Christians on how to realise a measure of peace on earth. The words that follow are M’Cheyne’s, and in them, we might find solace today, as we are confined to our homes, praying to be ‘passed over’, as Covid 19 approaches peak contagion levels:

‘Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief. Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in His beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love and repose in his almighty arms… let your soul be filled with a heart-warming sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in him.’

Andrew Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Edinburgh: William Elephant and Co., 1864), p.257. 


M’Cheyne knew what it was to have life, real life, eternal life.

As we approach Easter we find ourselves looking at Jesus’ last days leading up to his death. On the night before Jesus died, he was with his closest friends, and he prayed for them. His prayer includes some of the most profound things he ever said. Perhaps the most wonderful is this:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” John 17:3

While we wait for a return to normality in these astonishing times, we would do well to heed Robert M’Cheyne, and focus ten times more often on Christ, than on ourselves and this world. We would do well to use this time – relatively free from meetings and commitments and social engagements, and all the other distractions that usually consume our time – to read our Bibles and draw close to God in His Word. For it is in the written Word that we see the Living Word (John 5:39). This is life. Real life. For Christians, there is no life other than to know Jesus. It is in looking at Jesus, and not at what is going on around us, that we will know peace in the storm.

Covid 19 is not sovereign – in spite of its corona (crown) epithet. The true crown is worn by our eternal Saviour and before Him, all disease and pain and fear are diminished and ultimately, they are powerless. Our life – our real life – is eternal.

Let’s spend what time we can, deepening our relationship with Jesus and our Heavenly Father, by soaking in God’s Word and reflecting on what it means – really means – to be saved, and delivered from death.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

1 Peter 5:10.