"And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning." The disciples came and stayed with Jesus. It would not have been an easy thing. It is not an easy thing to be with Jesus. Worldly people cannot live with him. Heavy demands will be made on their mental and physical and spiritual powers. Those with Jesus cannot sleep as they like, cannot revile others, cannot boast about themselves like the people of the world. They must be prepared to receive rebukes, disappointments, shocks, face some mysteries they cannot explain and have to wait patiently till they are revealed to them. Heavy demands are made on our personal discipline. We cannot be with Jesus and get up at our own time in the morning and spend time in gossip. Your attitudes will be corrected constantly. What you esteem will be thrown down. There will be a good deal of learning and unlearning. Your time is not your own. You will have to suspend your own thoughts and ideas. It is not easy to be with Jesus.
After living with Jesus for a stretch of time, the disciples gained experience which stood them in good stead in the trials of life. Jesus valued their stay with him. People could not understand his saying, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.", John . His words and his ways were not easy to understand. They all walked to the grave of Lazarus. They were in suspense. Their faith was not equal to what they were going to see. They were with Jesus in the storm. They ran into despair. Their lack of faith was rebuked. They were at their wits’ end when Jesus asked them to feed the five thousand. They said even two hundred penny worth of bread would not be sufficient to feed the five thousand— such was their crude imagination. They never could think like he did. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.", Isaiah 55:8,9.
Peter had the worst experience. Jesus said, "Get thee behind me Satan." It is not easy to be with Jesus with your spasmodic mode of life, your vacillating faith and your indiscipline. Jesus was a towering personality in every aspect of life. The piercing look that came from his eye could discern the thoughts and intents of men. The thoughts of the Pharisees were discerned and rebuked. It is not easy to be with Jesus.
Are you with Jesus? Have you subjected yourself to the discipline of living with him? Have you walked with Jesus to the bed of a sick person or a dead person? When the Holy Spirit comes He will testify of Jesus, but those that walk with Jesus and stay with Jesus have a solid experience and can explain Jesus in a way that people can understand. John 15:26, 27. They will not talk merely by inspiration or by theological knowledge. The disciples had the experience of being with Jesus and they received the Holy Spirit. These two blended together and made them very perfect witnesses. There were no fears or doubts. "We have seen with our eyes, felt with our hands, heard with our ears", they said. 1 John 1:1. Those of you who have not subjected yourselves to the heavy demands of his presence and want your own way and constantly disobey him— he will go away from you. When a man wanted to follow Jesus setting an indefinite date— after burying his father— Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead, you follow me now." The invaluable experience of dying with Him, one should not lose.
Once St. Francis went to the house of a very rich man. This man wanted to see the life of St. Francis. When they went to bed, he tied his gown to that of St. Francis so that he would awake when he rose out of bed. St. Francis got up in the middle of the night, untied the knot and went away for prayer. This man Bernard woke up and finding Francis gone, began to seek him. He saw Francis praying. There was such a radiance about him that Bernard could not stand it, but swooned. The whole night he prayed for the conversion of Bernard and Bernard got converted.
It was very hard to be with St. Francis. St. Francis called the body "donkey" because it always tended to interfere with good discipline. It gets angry quickly, expresses it in an uncouth way, at untimely moments. Our body is like that. St. Francis knew the value of discipline. It is hard to be with Jesus. But once you are with him, he will make you a great personality. Your words will tell like strong bullets which force their way into the very hearts of men. Jesus says, "You have been with me and gained experience, the Holy Spirit will help you to witness."
It is a great blessing to be with Jesus in your youth. By denying yourself some comfortable sleep at this time, you are gathering great wealth in heaven. Your life will rise in usefulness and will not be inactive. The spiritual inertia of those who are not with Christ is appalling. This spiritual inertia cannot be overcome by intellectual theological equipment or by mere physical discipline like the Roman Catholics practise without living with the Saviour who corrects and transforms you. The life of the disciples could not be inert. "And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.", John .
Your Saturday night prayer is being with him, sharing his suffering and bearing his burdens. "Ye are even my witnesses.", Isaiah 44:8. He depends on us. The spirit cannot witness without the body. As long as this body is disciplined to be with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is within, your witness will be irresistible. The world will benefit by your witness. We speak facts, as they said— "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life", 1 John 1:1.