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The Wise Men and the Incarnation

The Wise Men and the Incarnation

The Wise Men and the Incarnation

AS soon as the wise men came to Jerusalem, they inquired, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” They were fully convinced that He was the King of the Jews, and that He had been but recently born, so they asked, “Where is He?”

In the case of these wise men, we see ignorance admitted. Truly wise men are never above asking questions, because they are wise men. Persons who have taken the name and degree of wise men, and are so esteemed, sometimes think it beneath them to confess any degree of ignorance, but the really wise think not so; they are too well instructed to be ignorant of their own ignorance. Many men might have been wise if they had but been aware that they were fools. The knowledge of our ignorance is the doorstep of the temple of knowledge. Some think they know, and therefore never know. Had they known that they were blind, they would soon have been made to see; but because they say, “We see,” therefore their blindness remains upon them.

The wise men were not content with admitting their ignorance; but, in their case, there was information entreated. They thought it likeliest that Jesus would be known at the metropolitan city. Was He not the King of the Jews? Where, then, would He be so well known as at the capital? They probably asked the guards at the gate, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” But the guards laughed them to scorn, and replied, “We know no king but Herod.” Perhaps they met a loiterer in the streets, and to him they said, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” and he answered, “What care I for such crazy questions? I am looking for a companion who will drink with me.” Possibly, they asked a trader; but he sneered, and said, “Never mind kings, what will you buy, or what have you to sell?” “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” said they to a Sadducee, and he replied, “Be not such fools as to talk in that fashion; or if you do, pray call on my religious friend, the Pharisee.” They passed a woman in the streets, and asked, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” but she said, “My child is sick at home, I have enough to do to think of my poor babe; I care not who is born, or who beside may die.” When they went to the very highest quarters, they obtained but little information; yet they were not content till they had learned all that could be known concerning the new-born King.

They were not satisfied with merely getting to Jerusalem. They might have said, “Ah! now we are in the land where the Child is born, we will be thankful, and sit down contentedly.” They heard that He was born at Bethlehem, so they journeyed thither; but we do not find that, when they reached that village, they said, “This is a favored spot, we will sit down here.” Not at all; they wanted to know where the house was in which they could find the King whom they had come so far to seek. They saw the star stand still above the village inn, and they knew by that sign that the new-born King was there, but that did not satisfy them. No; they rested not till they saw the Child Himself, and worshiped Him.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 98–100). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

The Incarnation, Its Glory

The Incarnation, Its Glory

The Incarnation, Its Glory

THERE was great glory about our Lord Jesus Christ even in His state of humiliation. Go back in thought to that memorable period, and try to realize what then happened.

See, Jesus is born of lowly parents, laid in a manger, and wrapped in swaddling-bands; but, lo! the principalities and powers in the heavenly places are all in commotion concerning this unparalleled event. First, one angel descends to proclaim the advent of the newborn King, and suddenly there is with him a multitude of the heavenly host singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Nor is the commotion confined to the spirits above; for in the heavens which overhang this earth there is a stir. A bright particular star is deputed to appear on behalf of all the stars, as if it were the envoy and plenipotentiary of all worlds to represent them before their King. This star is put in commission to wait upon the Lord, to be His herald to men afar off, His usher to conduct them to His presence, and His body-guard to sentinel His cradle.

I suppose you have each one his own imagination as to what this star was. It would seem to have been altogether supernatural, and not a star, or a comet of the ordinary kind. It was not a constellation, nor a singular conjunction of planets; there is nothing in the Scriptures to support such a conjecture. In all probability, it was not a star in the sense in which we now speak of stars; for we find that it moved before the wise men, then suddenly disappeared, and again shone forth to move before them. It could not have been a star in the upper spheres like others, for such movements would not have been possible. If the star was in its zenith over Bethlehem, it would have been in its zenith over Jerusalem, too; for the distance between them is so small that it would not have been possible to observe any difference in the position of the star in the two places. It must have been a star occupying quite another sphere from that in which the planets revolve.

We believe it to have been a luminous appearance in mid-air; probably akin to that which led the children of Israel through the wilderness, which was a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Whether it was seen in the daylight or not, we cannot tell. Chrysostom and the early fathers are wonderfully positive about many things which Scripture leaves in doubt; but as these eminent divines drew upon their imagination for their facts, we are not under bonds to follow them. They aver that this star was so bright as to be visible all day long. If so, we can imagine the wise men travelling day and night; but if it could be seen only by night, the picture before us grows far more singular and weird-like as we see these Easterns quietly pursuing their star-lit way, resting perforce when the sun was up, but noiselessly hurrying at night through slumbering lands.

But, whatever it may have been, it was the means of guiding to the Savior, from far-off lands, the most studious minds of the age. Making a long and difficult journey, these representatives of the Gentiles at last arrive at the place where the young Child is. Lo! the kings of Seba and Sheba offer gifts,—“gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Wise men, the leaders of their peoples, bow down before Him, and pay homage to the Son of God. Wherever Christ is, He is honorable. “Unto you that believe He is an honor.” Even in the day of small things, when He is denied such entertainment as He deserves, and is hidden away with things which are despised, He is still most glorious. Christ, though a Child, is still King of kings; though among the oxen, He is still distinguished by His star.

It would not be possible to tell how far off the native country of these wise men lay; it may have been so distant that the journey occupied nearly the whole of the two years of which they spake concerning the appearance of the star. Travelling was slow in those days, surrounded with difficulties and dangers. They may have come from Persia, or India, or Tartary, or even from the mysterious land of Sinim, now known to us as China. If so, strange and uncouth must have been the speech of those who worshiped around the young Child at Bethlehem, yet needed He no interpreter to understand and accept their adoration.

Why was the birth of the King of the Jews made known to these foreigners, and not to those nearer home? Why did the Lord select those who were so many hundreds of miles away, while the children of the kingdom, in whose very midst the Savior was brought forth, were yet strangely ignorant of His presence? See here again another instance of the sovereignty of God. Both in shepherds and in Eastern magi gathering around the young Child, I see God dispensing His favors as He wills; and, as I see it, I exclaim, “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” As of old, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elias the prophet, yet unto none of them was he sent, but unto the woman of Sarepta, a city of Sidon, so there were many among the Jews who were called wise men, but unto none of them did the star appear; but it shone on Gentile eyes, and led a chosen company from the ends of the earth to bow at Emmanuel’s feet.

Sovereignty, in these cases, clothed itself in the robes of mercy. It was great mercy that regarded the low estate of the shepherds, and it was far-reaching mercy which gathered from lands which lay in darkness a company of men made wise unto salvation. Mercy, wearing her resplendent jewels, was present with Divine sovereignty in the lowly abode of Bethlehem. Is it not a delightful thought that, around the cradle of the Savior, as well as around His throne in Heaven, these two attributes meet? He makes Himself known,—and herein is mercy; but it is to those whom He has chosen,—and herein He shows that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 93–97). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

The Incarnation, And Our Sonship

The Incarnation, And Our Sonship

The Incarnation, And Our Sonship

THE Lord Jesus Christ has come in human flesh that His people might “receive the adoption of sons.” What does this expression mean? Why, to feel, “Now I am under the mastery of love, as a dear child, who is both loved and loving. I go in and out of my Father’s house, not as a casual servant, called in to work, and paid by the day or the week, but as a child at home. I am not looking for hire as a servant, for I am ever with my Father, and all that He has is mine. My God is my Father, and the light of His countenance makes me glad. I am not afraid of Him, but I delight in Him; and nothing can separate me from Him. I feel towards Him that perfect love which casteth out fear, and I rejoice to be owned as His child.”

Try and enter into that blessed experience if you are indeed a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, for this is why He has come in the flesh,—on purpose that you, His people, may be to the full the adopted children of the Lord, receiving and enjoying all the privileges which sonship secures to you.

Then, next, exercise your heirship. One who is a son, and who knows that he is the heir of all his father’s estates, does not pine in poverty, nor act like a beggar. He looks upon everything that his father possesses as being his own; he regards his father’s wealth as making him rich. He does not feel that he is stealing if he takes what his father has made to be his own, but he makes free with it.

I wish believers would make free with the promises and blessings of their God. Help yourselves to all that He has laid up in store for you, for no good thing will the Lord withhold from you if you walk uprightly. All things are yours: you only need to use the hand of faith, and so to take possession of them. If you appropriate a promise of your Father’s, it will not be pilfering; you may take it boldly, and say, “This is mine.” Your adoption into the family of God brings with it large rights; be not slow to claim them. Paul writes to the Romans, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”

Among men, sons are only heirs in anticipation so long as their fathers are alive; they only become heirs in possession when their fathers are dead. But our Father in Heaven lives, yet we have the full privileges of heirship in Him even now. The Lord Jesus Christ was made of a woman on purpose that His dear people might at once enter into their heirship.

You ought to feel a sweet joy in the perpetual relationship which is now established between you and God, for Jesus is still your Brother. You have been adopted by God, and He has never cancelled that adoption yet. There is such a thing as regeneration, but there is not such a thing as the life then received dying out. If you are born unto God, you are born unto God. The stars may turn to coals, and the sun and moon may become clots of blood, but he that is born of God has a life within him which can never end; he is God’s child, and God’s child he shall be for ever. Therefore let him walk at large like a child, an heir, a prince of the blood royal of Heaven, who bears a relationship to the Lord which neither time nor eternity can ever destroy.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 90–92). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

The Incarnation, The Heart of the Gospel

The Incarnation, The Heart of the Gospel

The Incarnation, The Heart of the Gospel

GOD had made many visits to men before Christ’s Incarnation, but the most wonderful visit of all was when He came to tarry here, some three and thirty years, to work out our salvation. What but “tender mercy”, hearty mercy, intense mercy, could bring the great God to visit us so closely that He actually assumed our nature? Kings may, for various reasons, visit their subjects; but they do not think of taking upon themselves their poverty, their sickness, or their sorrow. They could not if they would, and they would not if they could; but our Divine Lord, when He came hither, took upon Him our flesh.

O children, the Lord so visited you as to become a Babe, and then a Child, who dwelt with His parents, and was subject unto them, and grew in stature, as you must do! O working-men, the Lord so visited you as to become the carpenter’s Son, and to know all about your toil, and your weariness, ay, even to hunger and faintness! O sons of men, Jesus Christ has so visited you that He has assumed your nature, and taken your sicknesses, and borne your infirmities, and your iniquities, too! This was a kind of visit such as none could have thought of making save our infinitely tender and merciful Savior. Christ Jesus, the God-man, is our next of kin, a Brother born for adversity. In all our affliction He is afflicted; He is tenderness itself toward us.

He did not come to earth just to pay us a passing visit, but He dwelt among us in this world of sin and sorrow. This great Prince entered our abode—what if I call it this hut and hovel?—wherein our poor humanity finds its home for a season. This little planet of ours was made to burn with a superior light among its sister stars while the Creator sojourned here in human form. He trod the acres of Samaria, and traversed the hills and vales of Judæa. “He went about doing good.”

He mingled among men with scarcely any reservation. Although, through His purity, He was separate from sinners as to His character, yet He was the visitor of all men. He was found eating bread with a Pharisee, which perhaps is a more wonderful thing than when He received sinners, and ate with them. A fallen woman was not too far gone in sin for Him to sit on the kerb of the well, and talk to her; nor were any of the poor and ignorant too mean for Him to care for them. His visit to us was of the most intimate kind. He disdained no man’s lowliness; He turned aside from no man, however sinful he might be.

But remember that He visited us, not merely to look upon us, and to talk with us, and to teach us, and set us a high and Divine example; but He so visited us that He took upon Himself our condemnation, that He might deliver us from it. He was made a curse for us, as it is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” He took our debts upon Him that He might pay them, minting His own heart to create the coinage. He gave Himself for us, which is more than if I said, “He gave His blood and His life for us;” His own self He gave for us.

So graciously did He visit us that He took away with Him our ill, and left only good behind. He did not come into our nature, and yet keep Himself reserved from all the consequences of our sin; nor come into our world, and yet maintain a status superior to that of the usual denizens of it; but He came to be a man among men, and to bear all that train of woes which had fallen upon human nature through its departure from the ways of God.

Our Lord so visited us as to become our Surety, our Substitute, our Ransom. He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, and the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. This was wonderful tender mercy on His part; it excels all human conception and language. If, for the first time, you had heard of the visit of the incarnate God to this world, you would be struck with a wonder which would last throughout all eternity, that God Himself should really condescend to such a deed as this. This is the heart of the Gospel, the incomparable fact of the Incarnation of the Son of God, His dwelling upon the earth, and His presentation of Himself as a sacrifice unto God. Since God has visited us, not in the form of a judge executing vengeance, nor as an angel with a flaming sword, but in the gentle person of that lowliest of the lowly, who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me,” we are herein made to see the tender mercy of our God. Nothing could be more gracious than the Divine appearance upon earth of the Man of sorrows.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 86–89). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

 

Christ Incarnate, The Pledge of Deliverance

Christ Incarnate, The Pledge of Deliverance

Christ Incarnate, The Pledge of Deliverance

WHEN God takes manhood into union with Himself in this matchless way, it must mean blessing to man. God cannot intend to destroy that race which He thus weds unto Himself. Such a marriage as this, between mankind and God, must foretell peace; war and destruction are never thus predicted. God incarnate in Bethlehem, to be adored by shepherds, augurs nothing but—

      “Peace on earth, and mercy mild;

         God and sinners reconciled.”

O ye sinners, who tremble at the thought of the Divine wrath, as well you may, lift up your heads with joyful hope of pardon and favour, for God must be full of grace and mercy to that race which He so distinguishes above all others by taking it into union with Himself! Be of good cheer, O men of women born, and expect untold blessings, for “unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.”

If you look at rivers, you can often tell, by their color, whence they have come, and the soil over which they have flowed; those which flow from melting glaciers can be recognized at once. There is a text, concerning a heavenly river, which you will understand if you look at it in this light. John, in the Revelation, says concerning the angel, “He shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Where the throne is jointly occupied by God and the appointed Mediator, the incarnate God, the once-bleeding Lamb, then the river that flows from it must be a river, not of the molten lava of devouring wrath, but of the water of life.

The consequences of Christ’s Incarnation must be pleasant, profitable, saving, and ennobling to the sons of men. They include, among many other blessings, a pledge of our deliverance. We are a fallen race, we are sunken in the mire, we are sold under sin, in bondage and in slavery to Satan; but if God comes to our race, and espouses our nature, why, then, it must be because He has resolved to retrieve our fall. It cannot be possible for the gates of hell to enclose those who have God with them. Slaves under sin, and bondsmen beneath the law, hearken to the trump of jubilee, for One has come among you, born of a woman, made under the law, who is also “the mighty God,” pledged to set you free.

He is a Savior, and a great one; He is able to save, for He is almighty; and He is pledged to do it, for He has entered the lists on our behalf, and put on the harness for the battle. The Champion of His people is One who will not fail, nor be discouraged; the victory over all their foes shall be fully won. Jesus coming down from Heaven is the pledge that He will take His people up to Heaven; His taking our nature is the seal of our being lifted up to stand before His throne.

Were it an angel who had interposed on our behalf, we might have some fears as to the result of the conflict. Were it a mere man who had espoused our cause, we might go beyond fear, and sit down in despair; but as God has actually taken manhood into union with Himself, let us “ring the bells of Heaven,” and be full of glad thanksgiving. There must be brighter and happier days in store for us, there must be salvation for man, there must be glory to God, now that we have “God with us.” Let us bask in the beams of the Sun of righteousness, who now has risen upon us, a Light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of His people Israel.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 83–85). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

Christ Incarnate, The Sinner's Only Hope

Christ Incarnate, The Sinner's Only Hope

Christ Incarnate, The Sinner's Only Hope

THERE was no hope for any sinner unless the Son of God Himself should save him. But the apostle Paul, writing to his son Timothy, says, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” You may measure the depth of our danger by the glory of the person of Him who undertook to deliver us from it. It is the Son of God, whom angels worship, who has come “to save sinners.” It must be a deep destruction from which only God Himself could rescue man.

When Christ “came into the world,” observe how He had to be equipped for His service, and from His equipment learn the sternness of His task. He must be Jesus,—a Savior; and then He must also be Christ,—anointed for the work; He must come with authority Divine, and the Spirit of God must rest upon Him to qualify Him for the great undertaking. For Paul saith not simply that Jesus came into the world, but Christ Jesus, the anointed Savior, came that He might save. If this Divine equipment was needed, then surely the state of man was a grievous one.

Note also that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. The Fall of man was so terrible that, if he was to be delivered from its effects, Christ Jesus must come right down into the place of our ruin; He must come to the dunghill that He might lift us out of it. God in Heaven said, “Let there be light,” and the darkness fled before Him; but Christ Jesus must needs come into the world to save sinners; down into this polluted creation the eternal Creator must Himself descend. He cannot save us sinners, so great is our ruin, unless He becomes incarnate, and takes upon Himself our nature.

And being here, think how dreadful must be our ruin when we see that Christ cannot return to Heaven, saying, “It is finished,” until first of all He dies. That sacred head must be crowned with thorns, those eyes must be closed in the darkness of death, that body must be pierced even to its heart, and then must lie in the grave, a chill, cold corpse, ere man can be redeemed; and all that shame, and suffering, and death were but the outer shell of what the Savior suffered, for He endured the fierceness of His Father’s wrath against sin, and bare such a load as would have crushed the whole race of men eternally had they been left to bear it.

O sinner, you are awfully lost, you are infinitely lost, since it needs an infinite Savior to present the atonement of His own body in order to save sinners from the penalty, and power, and consequences of their sin! This is the truth which is conveyed to us by this faithful saying, which is “worthy of all acceptation.” May the Holy Ghost write it on our hearts!

There is one thing which should be sure to hold, as though spellbound, the attention of every trembling sinner; it is this,—the Christ of God, who in the end of the world has appeared, did not come to deny the fact of human sin, or to propagate a philosophy which might make sin seem harmless, or to define it as a mere mistake, or perhaps as a calamity, but by no means as a hell-deserving crime. I am sure that every sensitive conscience would loathe such teaching; it could yield no comfort whatever to a soul which had felt sin to be exceeding sinful.

Jesus Christ did not come into the world to help you to forget your sin. He has not come to furnish you with a cloak with which to cover it. He has not appeared that He may so strengthen your minds (as some men would have you believe,) that you may learn to laugh at your iniquities, and defy the consequences thereof. For no such reason has the Son of God descended from Heaven to earth. He has come, not to lull you into a false peace, not to whisper consolation which would turn out to be delusive in the end, but to give you a real deliverance from sin by putting it away, and so to bring you a true peace in which you may safely rejoice.

For, if sin be put away, then peace is lawful; then rest of spirit becomes not only a blessing which we may enjoy, but which we must enjoy, and which, the more we shall enjoy it, the better shall we please our God. O sinner, the good tidings that we bring to you, in the Gospel, are not the mere glitter of a hope that will delude you at the last, not a present palliative for the woe you feel, but a real cure for all your ills, a sure and certain deliverance from all the danger that now hangs over you!

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 79–82). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

Christ Incarnate, His Knowledge of Sin

Christ Incarnate, His Knowledge of Sin

Christ Incarnate, His Knowledge of Sin

HE who came to save men is no other than God; therefore, He is capable of viewing sin from God’s standpoint, and of understanding what was due to God because of man’s sin. By bracing His Godhead to His manhood, He was capable, in His twofold nature, of sustaining pangs which humanity could not have endured apart from Godhead, and of receiving into His infinite mind a sight of sin, and a horror concerning it, such as no finite mind ever could have endured.

You think, perhaps, that you comprehend sin; but you cannot do anything of the kind. It is an evil too monstrous for the human mind fully to know its heights and depths, its lengths and breadths; but Christ, who is God incarnate, fully knew what sin meant. He had plumbed it to the very bottom, and knew how deep it was. He had gazed upon it, and felt all the horror of its unrighteousness, ingratitude, and turpitude. Its sinfulness struck His sinless mind with all its awful force, and overwhelmed His holy soul with a horror which none but He could bear. He was, in all respects, perfect; and, therefore, had no need to die on His own account. It behooved Him to suffer, not because He was the Son of God, or the Son of man; but because He was the Redeemer, the Sponsor, the Surety, the Substitute of men.

When I have felt the burden of my sin, I confess that I have at times felt as if it were too great to be taken away by any conceivable power; but, on the other hand, when I have seen the excellence of my Master’s person, the perfection of His manhood, the glory of His Godhead, the wondrous intensity of His anguish, the solid value of His obedience, I have felt as if my sin were too little a thing to need so vast a sacrifice. I have felt like John Hyatt who, when dying, said that he could not only trust Christ with his one soul, but that he could trust Him with a million souls if he had them. Were my sins greater than they are, and God forbid they should be!—were my sense of them ten thousand times more vivid than it is,—and I could wish I had a more clear and humbling consciousness of my own iniquity; yet, even then, I know that my Lord and Master is a greater Savior than I am a sinner.

From the constitution of His person as God and man, I am certain that, if I had heaped up my iniquities till they reached the skies, though, like the giants in the ancient mythology, I had piled Pelion upon Ossa, mountain of sin upon mountain of rebellion, and had thought to scale the very throne of God in my impious rebellion, yet, even then, the precious blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, could cleanse me from all sin.

Writing to the Hebrews, concerning Christ’s Incarnation, the apostle Paul says, “Once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” It was He, against whom the sin had been committed, it was He, who will be the Judge of the quick and the dead, who “appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Is there not great comfort in this fact? It is the Son of God who has undertaken this more than Herculean labor. He appeared, sinner, to save you; God appeared, “to put away sin.” Lost one, to find you, the great Shepherd has appeared; your case is not hopeless, for He has appeared. Had anybody else than God undertaken the task of putting away sin, it could never have been accomplished; but it can be accomplished now, for HE who appeared is the One with whom nothing is impossible.

Christ did not come as an amateur Savior, trying an experiment on His own account; He came as the chosen Mediator, ordained of God for this tremendous task. He is no unauthorized individual who, of his own accord alone, stepped into the gap without orders from Heaven. No; but He appeared whom the Father had, from eternity, chosen for the great task, and whom He had commissioned and sent to perform it. His very Name, Christ, tells of His anointing for this service.

He could not sit in Heaven, and accomplish this great work of our salvation. With all reverence to the blessed Son of God, we can truly say that He could not have saved us if He had kept His throne, and not left the courts of glory; so He “appeared” on earth in human form. He “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 75–78). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

All Fullness in the God-Man

All Fullness in the God-Man

All Fullness in the God-Man

IN Christ Jesus, there is all fullness, “for it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” In Him, there is everything that is essential to Deity, for “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead.” There is also, in Him, the fullness of perfect manhood, for that Godhead was revealed in Him “bodily.” Partaker of flesh and blood, made in all things like unto His brethren, there was nothing lacking that was necessary to the perfection of humankind in Him. There is a fullness of atoning efficacy in His blood, for “the blood of Jesus Christ.… cleanseth us from all sin.” There is a fullness of justifying righteousness in His life, for “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” There is a fullness of Divine prevalence in His plea, for “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

There is a fullness of victory in His death, for “as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” There is a fullness of efficacy in His resurrection from the dead, for by it we are “begotten again unto a lively hope, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” There is a fullness of triumph in His ascension, for “when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”

There is, in Christ Jesus, a fullness of blessings unspeakable, unknown; a fullness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is in Him a fullness at all times; a fullness by day and a fullness by night; a fullness of comfort in affliction, a fullness of guidance in prosperity, a fullness of every Divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fullness which it is impossible to survey or to explore. There is in Him everything summed up in a grand total, as Paul says, in writing to the Ephesians, “that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in One all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him.”

“It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” In vain we strive to recount the holy wonder; this is a theme which would exhaust an angel’s powers,—the fullness which resides in Jesus our Head, and ever abides to answer our need. We may realize a little what a fullness this must be, when we think of the multitude, which no man can number, all of whom have received of His fullness, grace upon grace. There is not one of them who has received only a little grace; they are all, as Rutherford has it, “drowned debtors to His mercy;” or, as we might put it, “over head and ears” in debt to Him. They are so indebted that they will never fully know how much they owe to their Lord, but they feel that an eternal song will not be too long for the expression of their grateful praise.

Christ’s fullness is an abiding fullness. John says, “Of His fullness have all we received;” yet he calls it a “fullness” still, for it never becomes any less, however many may partake of it. It was a fullness before a single sinner came to it to receive pardon; it was a fullness before a solitary saint had learned to drink of that river, the streams whereof make glad the Church of the living God; and now, after myriads, and even millions, of blood-redeemed souls have partaken of this life-giving stream, it is just as overflowing as ever. We are accustomed to say that, if a child takes a cupful of water from the sea, it is just as full as it was before; but that is not literally true, there must be just so much the less of water in the ocean. But it is literally true of Christ that, when we have not only taken out cups full,—for our needs are too great to be satisfied with such small quantities,—when we have taken out oceans full of grace,—and we need as much as that to carry us to Heaven,—there is actually as much grace left in Him as there was before we came to Him. Although we have drawn upon the exchequer of His love to an extent so boundless that we cannot comprehend it, yet there is as much mercy and grace left in Christ as there was before we began to draw from it. It is a “fullness” still, after all the saints have received of it.

There is also an abiding fullness of truth in Christ; after you have heard it for fifty years, you see more of its fullness than you did at first. Other themes weary the ear, sooner or later. I will defy any man to hold together a large congregation, year after year, with any other subject but Christ Jesus. He might attract hearers for a time; he might charm them with the discoveries of science, or with the beauties of poetry, and his oratory might be of so high an order that he might, for a while, draw the multitudes who have itching ears; but they would, in time, turn away, and say, “This is no longer to be endured; we know all he has to tell us.” All music but that of Heaven becomes wearisome before long; but, oh! if the minstrel doth play upon this celestial harp, though he keepeth his fingers always among its golden strings, and be but poor and unskilled to handle an instrument so divine, yet the melody of Jesus’ Name, and the sweet harmony of all His acts and attributes, will hold his listeners by the ears, and thrill their hearts as nought beside can do. The theme of Jesus’ love is inexhaustible; though preachers have dwelt upon it century after century, its freshness and fullness still remain.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 71–74). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

The God-Man, A Miracle of Power and Love

The God-Man, A Miracle of Power and Love

The God-Man, A Miracle of Power and Love

HAVE you ever thought of the miracle of power displayed in the Lord’s fashioning a human body capable of union with Godhead? Our Lord Jesus Christ was incarnate in a body, which was truly a human body, but yet which was, in some wondrous way, specially prepared to sustain the indwelling of Deity. Contact with God is terrible: “He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: He toucheth the hills, and they smoke.” He puts His feet on Paran, and it melts; and Sinai dissolves in flames of fire at His presence. So strongly was this truth inwrought into the minds of the early saints, that they said, “No man can see God’s face, and live;” and yet here was a manhood which did not merely see the face of God, but which was inhabited by Deity. What a wonderful human frame was this which could abide the presence of Jehovah!

Paul represents our Savior, when He cometh into the world, as saying to His Father, “A body hast Thou prepared Me.” That was indeed a body which was miraculously wrought; “that holy thing” was the special product of the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power. It was a body like our own, with nerves as sensitive, and muscles as readily strained, with every organization as delicately fashioned as our own; yet God was in it. It was a frail barque to carry such a wondrous freight.

O man Christ Jesus, how couldst Thou bear the Deity within Thee? We know not how it was, but God knoweth. Let us adore this hiding of the Almighty in human weakness, this comprehending of the Incomprehensible, this revealing of the Invisible, this localization of the Omnipresent. Human language cannot adequately set forth this unutterable truth. Suffice it to say, that the Divine power was wonderfully seen in the continued existence of the materialism of Christ’s body, which else had been consumed by such a wondrous contact with Divinity as was manifested in Emmanuel, “God with us.”

Christ took upon Him our nature in the fullest sense possible. His body contained everything that makes up a human body,—flesh, blood, bone, mind, heart, soul, memory, imagination, judgment,—everything that naturally belongs to a rational man. Jesus of Nazareth was the Man of men, the model representative Man. Think not of Him as a deified man any more than you would dare to regard Him as a humanized God, or demigod. Do not confound the natures that were united in Him, nor divide the Person in whom they were so marvelously blended. He is but one Person, yet as truly man as He is “very God of very God.”

As you think of this truth, say, “He who sits on the throne is such as I am, sin alone excepted.”

      “Oh, joy! there sitteth in our flesh,

         Upon a throne of light,

      One of a human mother born,

         In perfect Godhead bright!”

Behold, what manner of love God hath bestowed upon us, that He should espouse our nature! For never had He so united Himself with any creature before. His tender mercy had ever been over all His works, but they were so distinct from Himself that an immeasurable distance separated the Creator from His creatures so far as existence and relationship are concerned. The Lord had made many noble intelligences, principalities and powers of whom we know but little; we do not even know what those four living creatures may be who are nearest the eternal presence; but He had never allied Himself with any of them by actual union with His person. But, lo, He has joined Himself to man, that creature who is made to suffer death by reason of his sin; God has come into union with man, and therefore we may feel sure that He loves him with amazing love, and that He has great thoughts of good towards him. If a king’s son doth marry a member of a rebel race, then we may be certain that there are prospects of reconciliation, pardon, and restoration for that race. There must be, in the great heart of the Divine One, wondrous thoughts of pity and condescending love for guilty sinners, or He would never have deigned to take human nature into union with Himself. Let us sound the loud cymbals of delight and thanksgiving, for the Incarnation bodes good to our race.

As God has taken manhood into union with Himself, then God will feel for man, He will have pity upon him, He will remember that he is dust, He will have compassion upon his infirmities and sicknesses. You know how truly and graciously it is so, for that same Jesus, who was born of a woman at Bethlehem, is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, having been in all points tempted like as we are. Such intimate practical sympathy would not have belonged to our great High Priest if He had not become man. Not even though He is Divine could He have been perfectly in sympathy with us if He had not also become bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. The Captain of our salvation could only be made “perfect through sufferings;” and to this end, it was needful that He should become a partaker of flesh and blood; and, now, the Son of God can fully sympathize with men because He is one with them in everything except sin.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 67–70). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

The God-Man, Christ Jesus

The God-Man, Christ Jesus

The God-Man, Christ Jesus

IT was a new and startling doctrine, when first preached to heathen sages, that God would take humanity into so intimate a connection with Himself as really and truly to be man and God in the same person; but it is a doctrine which must be received by you, or else you cannot receive Christ.

My Master will not be satisfied with the acknowledgment that His character is lovely, His doctrine pure, and His moral teaching super-excellent. He will not be content with your admission that He is a Prophet greater than any prophet who ever came before or after Him. He will not rest satisfied with your admission that He is a Teacher sent from Heaven, and a being who, on account of His virtues, is now peculiarly exalted in Heaven.

All this is true, but it is not the whole truth; you must also believe that He who, as man, was born of the Virgin, and was dandled upon her lap at Bethlehem, was, as God, none other than the everlasting Lord, without beginning of days or end of years. You do not receive Christ in very deed and truth unless you believe in His real humanity and actual Godhead.

Indeed, what is there for you to receive if you do not receive this truth? A savior who is not Divine can be no Savior for us. How can a mere man, however eminent, deliver his fellows from sins such as yours and mine? How can he bear the burden of our guilt any more than we can ourselves bear it, if there be nothing more in him than in any other singularly virtuous man? An angel would stagger beneath the load of human criminality, and much more would this be the case with even a perfect man, if such an one could be found. It needed those mighty shoulders—

      “Which bear the earth’s huge pillars up,”—

to sustain the weight of human sin, and carry it into the wilderness of forgetfulness. So, in order to be saved by Him, you must receive Christ as being God as well as man.

John calls Him “The Word,” or the speech of God. God in nature has revealed Himself, as it were, inarticulately and indistinctly; but, in His Son, He has revealed Himself as a man declares his inmost thoughts, by distinct and intelligible speech. Jesus is to the Father what speech is to us; He is the unfolding of the Father’s thoughts, the revelation of the Father’s heart. He that hath seen Christ hath seen the Father. “Wouldst thou have me see thee?” said Socrates, “then speak;” for speech reveals the man. Wouldst thou see God? Listen to Christ, for He is God’s Word, revealing the very heart of Deity.

Lest, however, we should imagine Jesus to be a mere utterance, simply a word spoken, and then forgotten, John is specially careful that we should know that Jesus is a real and true Person, and therefore he tells us that the Divine Word, of whose fullness we have received, is most assuredly God.

No language can be more distinct and explicit than that which John uses concerning Jesus. He ascribes to Him the eternity which belongs alone to God: “In the beginning was the Word.” He peremptorily claims Divinity for Him: “The Word was God.” He ascribes to Him creative power: “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” He ascribes to Him self-existence, which is the essential characteristic of God: “In Him was life.” He claims for Him a nature peculiar to God: “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all;” and he says that the Word is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” No writer could be more definite in the expressions he uses; and beyond all question he sets forth the true and proper Deity of that Blessed One whom we all must receive if we would obtain eternal salvation.

Yet John does not fail to set forth that our Lord was also man. He saith, “the Word was made flesh,”—not merely assumed manhood, but was made flesh; made not merely man, as to His nobler part, His soul, but man as to His flesh, His lower element. Our Lord was not a phantom, but one who, as John declares in his first Epistle, could be seen, and heard, and touched, and handled.

“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” He tabernacled with the sons of men,—a carpenter’s shed His lowly refuge, and the caves and mountains of the earth His midnight resort in His after life. He dwelt among sinners and sufferers, among mourners and mortals, Himself completing His citizenship among us by becoming obedient unto death, “even the death of the cross.” Thus, while He is so august a person that Heaven and earth tremble at the majesty of His presence, yet is He so humble a person that He is not ashamed to call us “brethren.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 63–66). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 


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