« PrécédentContinuer »
Now, these words contain, not by implication, but directly, by direct inference, these subjects;-1st. The Godhead of Jesus-the Godhead of that blessed Redeemer whose birth we commemorate to-day. 2dly. The birth of Jesus into this world. 3dly. The life of Jesus while he was in the world. 4thly. The manifested glory of Jesus while he was in the world. 5thly. They contain the great salvation of Jesus; and finally contain the fulfilment of God's promises and prophecies by the types and shadows of the ceremonial law in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. THE GODHEAD OF JESUS. "The Word was made flesh." The Word, what does the evangelist mean by this expression, “the Word was made flesh ?" Who is the Word? what is the Word? Go back to the beginning of the chapter; there we see who and what the Word was. 1st verse, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God;" therefore, essentially different in that respect, as a distinct person from God the Father, and yet one with God the Father-for "the Word was God." Again, we see this Word the Creator of all things: 3rd verse, "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made." Who made all things? Ask a childask any one but a fool, who made all things? God. Certainly not, unless the Word was God; for the Word made all things: "all things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made." What does this declare ? Why, his eternal power and Godhead, as we have it in Rom. i. 20. "for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." The things that are made declare the eternal power and Godhead of Him who made them, therefore of the Word. So, in Col. i. you will see the same truth;-St. Paul is speaking of this blessed Word, for he says, "in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins," and he adds, "who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature." There is the image of the invisible God, God the Father, "whom no man hath seen at any time," there is the express image
of that Jehovah, "God manifest in the flesh," the blessed Son. Now, mark what is said in verses 16, 17, 18, "for by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers, all things were created by him and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist, and he is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence." There you see another exhibition of the glory of the Word.
Then, if you look to Heb. i, 1, 2, you will see the same thing, "God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days, spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." There you have the Father and the Son spoken of; the Son declared to be the almighty agent in the creation of the world. So you see, when he appears to his servant, John, the author of this Gospel, Rev. i. 8. "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."
Here, then, you have, in God's eternal truth, the character of the Word Jehovah Jesus, "God over all, blessed for ever." Why is he called the Word? Why is such a name as that given to Christ? What do you mean by a word? A word is that which embodies your ideas, which gives expression to the unseen thoughts of your mind. Look to this chapter, ver. 18. and you will see the reason why he is called the Word, "no man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him ;" he is the Logos who declares the character of the living God, and there is no possibility of man's seeing or knowing the character of God; there is not a sinner on earth that has the most distant idea of the moral character and government of God, till it is revealed to him in Christ Jesus. The unconverted sinner, the nominal Christian, though sitting in the Church under the sound of the Gospel, knows no more of the moral character and government of God, than the pagan, till he knows that moral
character and government, as revealed to his soul in the Word, Christ Jesus; He declares it, and then, when he sees Jesus as revealed in Scripture, then he knows the character of this God whom Jesus reveals. Now, is not the Godhead of Jesus set forth in this text, "the Word was made flesh ?"
II. WE HAVE THE BIRTH OF JESUS SET FORTH. "The Word was made flesh." He was made flesh, as we are made flesh, born of a woman, miraculously conceived indeed, but born of a woman, taking the flesh of the sons and daughters of Adam, one with ourselves; "the Word was made flesh." Oh! what a glorious mystery, what a blessed mystery is "the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh!" God could not suffer-man could not save. God became man that he might suffer; he is God, and he can save;―aye, blessed be his holy name, save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him."
This is that blessed event which we celebrate to-day, my beloved friends-the birth of Jesus." Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called wonderful, counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace!" Oh! what a blessed event for sinners like you and me, to celebrate, the birth of a Saviour! Let men who flatter themselves that their houses shall continue for ever, and who call their lands by their own names, and hand them down, as they hope, from generation to generation-let them have rejoicings at the birth of a son-let nations rejoice when the heirs of kingdoms are born-but oh! let the sinner's heart rejoice when the Saviour, the heir of glory, the heir of all things, is born into this world, that he may be a Refuge, a Redeemer, a Friend, Salvation for the sinner. It is most important that we should remember the fact, "the Word was made flesh."
III. There is another thing declared in this verse-THE LIFE OF JESUS: "He dwelt among us. It is of the utmost importance, that Christians should ever remember the facts, the solid facts, on which the hope of their salvation rests; for the Devil is for ever undermining or endeavouring to undermine the facts that are revealed in the Scriptures, of the
person and character of Christ;-I say, that is the especial point of the Devil's continual attack;-so we see how he attacks the Godhead of Immanuel, how he tries to take away the Godhead of Jesus. (Socinianism takes away the Godhead of Jesus-takes away all salvation from man)-then he takes away the manhood of Christ, the perfect manhood of Christ,-this is one of the awful superstitions of the Church of Rome; for, although they acknowledge the humanity of Christ in so many words, they take away the manhood of Christ, that is, they exalt Jesus so high above humanity, that the sinner cannot come near it, cannot close with it, cannot come to Jesus, he is so high, but must have some saints or angels, or the Virgin Mary, or other mediators,-whereas the glory of the Gospel consists, not only in the Godhead of Jesus, but in the humanity of Jesus. He is close to us, one with us, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, so that no sinner could come nearer to a friend or a brother, and pour out his soul before him, than the poor sinner can come to the "friend that sticketh closer than a brother," and pour out his soul at the feet of his precious Saviour! hence, the blessed Redeemer is "a man that receiveth sinners." So he dwelt among us;-and how did he dwell among us? walking among the people, living among them, talking to them, so that they knew him, were acquainted with him, familiar with him. Jesus was a child; we find him in the first lesson of this day a child, born in a stable,— laid in a manger,-we find him on the eighth day, a child brought into the temple to be circumcised-we find him again in the 41st verse, St. Luke ii. going up with his parents every year to the feast at Jerusalem-we find him on one particular occasion, when twelve years of age, going up to the feast at Jerusalem, and when they returned, "the child Jesus tarried behind, and they, supposing him to be in the company, went a day's journey," they imagined that he was with them,-and no doubt all Mary's kinsfolk and acquaintance were happy to see and know and speak to the Child Jesus, we all love an amiable child, an amiable, affectionate, kind child,—how happy the kinsfolk and acquaintance of Mary must
have been when Jesus was allowed to be with them, (for Mary thought he was) as they went down from Jerusalem.
These little, plain, simple facts in the Word of God are very important to us, "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,"-so we find him here, "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions." We find him again verse 51, going down to Nazareth, and being subject unto his parents, living as a child.-Then we find him as a man in Matthew iv. 23, "and Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people." You follow him and trace him dwelling among us, known to man, known to children as a child, known to men as a man, walking in the midst of Galilee, calling the attention of all the surrounding country to him by the wondrous works he did. So again, after his resurrection we see him, as the apostle tells us in Acts i. "showing himself to his apostles by many infallible proofs," and we have Peter telling us the same thing in chap. x. that "he showed himself, not unto all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead," so "he was made flesh and dwelt among us."
How did he dwell? There is no condition of life in which the believer may not pause with joy and thankfulness on the life of Jesus. Is he poor, is he in an humble and lowly situation in life, passing through the world unnoticed and unknown? See how Jesus sanctified poverty, humiliation, seclusion from the world, retiredness from the world," he was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not," the greater portion of his life he passed in this humble, lowly, unseen, unknown sphere. Are you then walking in an humble, lowly sphere? Jesus dwelt there, you have a Saviour who walked before in the same sphere as you. Then, if men are called into public life, into all the vicissitudes and trials connected with that, Jesus passed through them all, we behold the Lord Jesus Christ admired, followed, honored, attended to, called a benefactor of mankind, sought after by
persons to make him a king, then we find him traduced, maligned, despised, rejected, buffetted, spitted on, as a malefactor, crucified. What vicissitudes, or what trials, or what circumstances of human life are there in which Jesus may not be found?" the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." Oh, how blessed it is to reflect on these portions of our blessed Lord's life and character. IV. THE MANIFESTED GLORY CHRIST, we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." The works of the Lord Jesus Christ manifested the power of Jehovah. He did not, (now mark the difference) as his apostles did, to whom he gave power to work miracles,―he did not use the name of some other being superior to himself, and say as they did, "in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk,"-No, he spoke with the power and majesty of Jehovah, to the winds and waves, "be still! and there was a great calm ;"-"young man, I say unto thee arise!-And he that was dead sat up and began to speak."—" Lazarus come forth!" he that was dead came forth. He appeals himself to this, he says in St. John's Gospel, x. 38. " though ye believe not me, believe the works, that ye may know and believe-what? "that you may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him."
There is a passage in a sermon on glorying in the cross of Christ. I could not clothe the ideas in such language, or place them before you so beautifully as this writer has done.
"His birth was mean on earth below; but it was celebrated with hallelujahs by the heavenly host in the air above: he had a poor lodging, but a star lighted visitants to it from distant countries.— Never prince had such visitants so conducted. He had not the magnificent equipage that other kings have, but he was attended with multitudes of patients, seeking and obtaining healing of soul and body; that was more true greatness than if he had been attended with crowds of princes. He made the dumb that attended him sing his praises, and the lame to leap for joy, the deaf to hear his wonders, and the blind to see his glory. He had no guard of soldiers, nor magnificent retinue of servants; but as the centurion, that had both, acknowledged,
health and sickness, life and death, took orders from him. Even the winds and storms, which no earthly power can control, obeyed him; and death and the grave durst not refuse to deliver up their prey when he demanded it. He did not walk upon tapestry; but when he walked on the sea the waters supported him. All parts of the creation, excepting sinful men, honored him as their Creator. He kept no treasure; but when he had occasion for money, the sea sent it to him in the mouth of a fish: he had no barns, nor corn-fields, but when he inclined to make a feast, a few loaves covered a sufficient table for many thousands. None of all the monarchs of the world ever gave such entertainment.By these, and many such things, the Redeemer's glory shone through his meanness in the several parts of his life. Nor was it wholly clouded at his death; he had not, indeed, that fantastic equipage of sorrow that other great persons have on such occasions: but the frame of nature solemnized the death of its author; heaven and earth were mourners. The sun was clad in black; and if the inhabitants of the earth were unmoved, the earth itself trembled under the awful load: there were few to pay the Jewish compliment of rending their garments, but the rocks were not so insensible, they rent their bowels; he had not a grave of his own, but other men's graves opened to him. Death and the grave might be proud of such a tenant in their territories; but he came not there as a subject, but as an invader, a conqueror: it was then the king of terrors lost his sting; and on the third day the Prince of life triumphed over him, spoiling death and the grave. But this last particular belongs to Christ's exaltation the other instances show a part of the glory of his humiliation, but it is a small part of it."
Mark the glory of the image of Jehovah! He was "perfect, even as his Father was perfect;" the holiness of all this book is transcribed in the person of Jesus, the perfect law of the living God was manifested in the life "of Jesus," "he is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,"-the traitor that betrayed him declared, that he had "betrayed the innocent blood”—the judge | that condemned him said, "I find no fault in this man"-the very devils ac
knowledged him, "we know thee who thou art, the holy one of God"-the Father himself declared of him, "thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Heaven and Earth and Hell, God and men, and devils testified of his perfection. We see the moral character of God stamped on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ," we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
When we read that book, and when we look at man, when we read the history of the human race, the character of all men that are delineated in that blessed word, even the best amongst them all, of whom could we say, as his enemies said of Christ, "we find no evil in this man?"— When we look at the Lord Jesus Christ, we behold in his own character the transcript of his own blessed, perfeet word, and the Bible stamps on him the glory of the Author of the book itself, "God manifest in the flesh."-Then, what is the glory of that? Oh, great glory, wondrous glory! Why? because, he is the Lord our righteousness, his righteousness is our righteousness, to every one that believeth, he is "the end of the law for righteousness," "the righteous. ness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto and upon all them that believe."
When you read of the character of the Lord Jesus Christ in all his perfection and all his holiness, it is your blessed privilege, O believer, to take it all, and say: "this, through God's grace, is all my own, and all my guilt and sin is blotted out," Oh, good tidings, glad tidings of great joy!"we beheld his glory”—Ah, my friends, men may talk of the moral character of Christ, the moral example of Christ, and the beauty of Christ's example, and they may say, we are all to follow it,- -so we ought; for that is another part of the glory that he "suffered for us; leaving us an example that we should follow his steps,"-but men may talk, as many do-poor ignorant formalists may talk of the character of the Lord Jesus Christ—but no unconverted sinner sees any glory in him-on the contrary, tell you what he sees-he sees a holiness that he hates, he sees a perfection that he feels he falls infinitely short of, he beholds a righteous Being before whom he trembles to appear,-and, say what he may, he can see no glory in the character
of Christ, till he is able to see the blessing of the Gospel, that all the righteousness of Jesus, and all the holiness of Jesus is given to him, is put down to his account to constitute his righteousness which he is to take with him, and to stand before the bar of God, then indeed he beholds the glory of Christ's righteousness, the glory of Immanuel's character.
V. But I said, there was in this text, THE RICH SALVATION OF JESUS. "We beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," the grace that is in Jesus-that is no glory to unenlightened man— Man has no notion in his natural state of salvation by grace, but of salvation by works, in some shape or other-some modification of grace and works is all that the sinner has any idea of,—he has no idea but that there is a reward, in the way of merit, for goodness, and so, poor wretch, he tries to gain the reward. But the glory of the grace that is in Christ Jesus is salvation for the guilty, salvation for the lost, mercy for the wicked, mercy for those who have no hope in themselves and are outcasts from God and men,there is the salvation, the glory that is in Christ Jesus.
"Full of grace,”—How do you think? Look at the poor woman mentioned in St. Luke's Gospel vii. of whom Simon the Pharisee said of Christ," this man if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, for she is a sinner," when she came to pour her tears upon his feet, and wipe them with the hairs of her head, and when the pharisee saw her, you remember, that was his remark ;-but when the Lord Jesus Christ said to her, thy sins are forgiven the," she who had been an outcast from society, the poor soul, on whom the first door perhaps that had been shut was her own father's door when she had brought disgrace on him,— his door shut against her, and every door shut against her, Oh, what grace when the Lord now set before her "an open door which no man can shut"-a door of mercy-acknowledged her as his daughter, "daughter, be of good comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee." Oh, what a blessed thing for her when she saw the blessed Jesus, so "full of grace," that there was grace and mercy for her poor soul!
See the poor woman taken in adultery,by the Jewish law, she was to be stoned.
when she was brought to Jesus, when he said, "let him that is without sin amongst you, cast the first stone,❞—that is, let him who is fit to stand in the presence of God, as a holy man, let him first cast the stone at her, and when the consequence was, that they all slunk away. when their conscience condemned them -Christ said, "woman where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? and she said, no man, Lord,""neither," saith Christ, "do I condemn thee, go, and sin no more." Oh, how
grace were these words of Jesus that sounded in that poor sinner's ear! And again, Zaccheus,he was the chief among the publicans,how full of grace did Christ appear to him, when Christ came to his house, and declared, "this day is salvation come to this house!" and Oh, how full of grace must Jesus have appeared to the thief on the cross, when he turned round, and snatched him from the very jaws of hell, and said, “to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise!""All the publican's and sinners drew near unto him to hear him," Luke xv. why? because they heard what they never heard before, grace, the fullness of grace in Christ, they were sinners, and so they drew near to hear ;-"the pharisees and scribes murmured," but they drew near to hear him, because there was grace, mercy, and pardon proclaimed by the precious Saviour to their poor guilty souls, so he was the shepherd that went after the lost sheep, the woman that searched for the 'lost money, the father that welcomed the prodigal son-he was that God in whose presence there is joy over one sinner that repenteth. How full of grace the character of Christ is, -"where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."
VI. Then again, in these words, "full of grace and truth," we have THE FUL
FILMENT OF ALL THE TYPES AND SHADOWS
OF THE CEREMONIAL LAW. You see this in the 17th verse-" The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Now observe, the law, the moral and ceremonial law, was given by Moses, but “ grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Grace, as contradistinguished from the moral law, bring