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The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


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)

 

"God With Us," Under All Conditions

"God With Us," Under All Conditions

BEING “with us” in our nature, God is “with us” in all our life’s pilgrimage. Scarcely can we find a single halting-place, in the march of life, at which Jesus has not paused, or a weary league of the road which He has not traversed. From the gate of entrance, even to the door which closes life’s pilgrim way, the footprints of Jesus may be traced. Were you once in the cradle? He was there. Were you a child under parental authority? Christ also was a boy in the home at Nazareth. Have you entered upon life’s battle? Your Lord and Master did the same; and though He lived not literally a long life, yet, through incessant toil and suffering, He bore the marred visage which usually attends a battered old age. He was not much more than thirty when the Jews said to Him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old,” evidently implying that He looked much older than He actually was.

Are you alone? So was He, in the wilderness, and on the mountain’s side, and in the garden’s gloom. Do you mix in public society? So did He labor in the thickest press. Where can you find yourself, on the hill-top, or in the valley, on the land or on the sea, in the daylight or in darkness, without discovering that Jesus has been there before you? We might truly say of our Redeemer that He was—

      “A man so various that He seemed to be

      Not one, but all mankind’s epitome.”

One harmonious man He was, and yet all saintly lives seem to be condensed in His. Two believers may be very unlike each other, and yet both will find that Christ’s life has in it points of resemblance to their own. One may be rich and another poor, one actively laborious and another patiently suffering, yet each man, in studying the history of the Saviour, shall be able to say, “His pathway ran hard by my own.” He was in all points made like unto His brethren. How charming is the fact that our Lord is “God with us,” not merely here and there, and now and then, but everywhere, and evermore!

Especially do we realize the sweetness of His being “God with us” in our sorrows. There is no pang that rends the heart, I might almost say not one which disturbs the body, but Jesus Christ has endured it before us. Do you feel the pinching of poverty? He could say, “The Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” Do you know the grief of bereavement? “Jesus wept” at the tomb of Lazarus. Have you been slandered for righteousness’ sake, and has it vexed your spirit? He said, “Reproach hath broken Mine heart.” Have you been betrayed? Do not forget that He, too, had His familiar friend, who sold Him for the price of a slave. On what stormy seas have you been tossed which have not also roared around His boat? Never will you traverse any glen of adversity so dark, so dismal, apparently so pathless, but what, in stooping down, you may discover the footprints of the Crucified One. In the fires and in the rivers, in the cold night and under the burning sun, He cries, “I am with thee. Be not dismayed, for I am both thy Companion and thy God.”

Mysteriously true is it that, when you and I shall come to the last, the closing scene, we shall find that Emmanuel has been there also. He felt the pangs and throes of death, He endured the bloody sweat of agony, and the parching thirst of fever. He knew all about the separation of the tortured spirit from the poor fainting flesh, and cried, as we shall, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”

Ay, and He knew the grave, too, for there He slept, and left the sepulchre perfumed and furnished for us as a couch of rest, and not as a charnel-house of corruption. That new tomb in the garden makes Him “God with us” till the resurrection shall call us from our beds of clay to find Him “God with us” in newness of life. We shall be raised up in His likeness, and the first sight our opening eyes shall see will be our incarnate God. Every true believer can say, with Job, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Yes; I, in my flesh, shall see Him as the man, the God, the God-man, Christ Jesus.

And to all eternity He will maintain the most intimate association with us. As long as the eternal ages roll, He will still be “God with us.” Has He not said, “Because I live, ye shall live also”? Both His human and His Divine life will last for ever, and so shall our life endure. He shall dwell among us, and lead us to living fountains of waters, and so shall we be “for ever with the Lord.”

Ask yourselves whether you know what “God with us” means. Has it been God with you in your tribulations, by the Holy Ghost’s comforting influence? Has it been God with you in searching the Scriptures? Has the Holy Spirit shone upon the Word? Has it been God with you in conviction, bringing you to Sinai? Has it been God with you in comforting you, by bringing you to Calvary? Do you know the full meaning of that Name Emmanuel, “God with us”? No; he who knows it best knows but little of it; and, alas! he who knows it not at all is ignorant indeed; so ignorant that his ignorance is not bliss, but will be his damnation unless it is removed by the Holy Spirit’s effectual working. May He teach you the meaning of that Name!

My soul, try to ring out the music of these words, “God with us.” Put me in the desert, where vegetation grows not; I can still say, “God with us.” Put me on the wild ocean, and let my ship dance madly on the waves; I would still say, “God with us.” Mount me on the sunbeam, and let me fly beyond the Western sea; still I would say, “God with us.” Let my body dive down into the depths of the ocean, and let me hide in its caverns; still I could, as a child of God, say, “God with us.”

This is one of the bells of Heaven, let us strike it yet again: “God with us.” It is a stray note from the sonnets of paradise: “God with us.” It is the melody of the seraphs’ song: “God with us.” It is one of the notes of Jehovah Himself, when He rejoices over His Church with singing: “God with us.”

Tell it out to all the nations that this is the Name of Him who was born in Bethlehem, “God with us,”—God with us, by His Incarnation, for the august Creator of the world did walk upon this globe; He, who made ten thousand orbs, each of them more mighty and more vast than this earth, became the inhabitant of this tiny atom. He, who was from everlasting to everlasting, came to this world of time, and stood upon the narrow neck of land betwixt the two unbounded seas.

His Name is, indeed, wonderful: “Emmanuel.” It is wisdom’s mystery: “God with us.” Sages think of it, and wonder; angels desire to look into it; the plumb-line of reason cannot reach half-way into its depths; the eagle-wing of science cannot fly so high, and the piercing eye of the vulture of research cannot see it. “God with us.” It is hell’s terror. Satan trembles at the sound of it; his legions fly apace, the black-winged dragon of the pit quails before it. Let him come to attack you, and do you but whisper that word “Emmanuel,” back he falls, confounded and confused. Satan trembles when he hears that Name, “Emmanuel.” It is the Christian laborer’s strength; how could he preach the Gospel, how could he bend his knees in prayer, how could the missionary go into foreign lands, how could the martyr stand at the stake, how could the confessor own his Master, how could men labor if that one word were taken away? “Emmanuel.” ’Tis the sufferer’s comfort, ’tis the balm for his woe, ’tis the alleviation of his misery, ’tis the sleep which God giveth to His beloved, ’tis their rest after exertion and toil. Ah! and more than that; ’tis eternity’s sonnet, ’tis Heaven’s hallelujah, ’tis the shout of the glorified, ’tis the song of the redeemed, ’tis the chorus of angels, ’tis the everlasting oratorio of the grand orchestra of the sky.

      “Hail, great Emmanuel, all Divine,

      In Thee Thy Father’s glories shine;

      Thou brightest, sweetest, fairest one,

      That eyes have seen, or angels known.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 57–62). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

"God With Us," Bridging the Great Gulf

"God With Us," Bridging the Great Gulf

THE Eternal seems to be so far away from us. He is infinite, and we are such little creatures. There appears to be a great gulf fixed between man and God, even in the matter of our creatureship. But He, who is God, has also become man. We never heard that God took the nature of angels into union with Himself; we may therefore say that, between Godhead and angelhood, there must be an infinite distance still; but the Lord has actually taken manhood into union with Himself. There is, therefore, no longer a great gulf between Him and us. On the contrary, here is a marvelous union; Godhead has entered into marriage bonds with manhood.

O my soul, thou dost not stand now, like a poor lone orphan, wailing across the deep sea after thy Father, who has gone far away, and cannot hear thee; thou dost not now sob and sigh, like an infant left naked and helpless, its Maker having gone too far away to supply its wants, or listen to its cries! No, thy Maker has become like thyself. Is that too strong a word to use? He, without whom was not anything made that was made, was made flesh; and He was made flesh in such a way that He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. O manhood, was there ever such good news as this for thee? Poor manhood, thou weak worm of the dust, far lower than the angels, lift up thy head, and be not afraid! Poor manhood, born in weakness, living in toil, covered with sweat, and dying at last to be eaten by the worms, be not thou abashed even in the presence of seraphs, for next to God is man, and not even an archangel can come in between; nay, not merely next to God, for Jesus, who is God, is man also; Jesus Christ, eternally God, was born, and lived, and died as we also do.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is, in some senses, more completely man than Adam ever was. Adam was not born; he was created as a man. Adam never had to struggle through the risks and weaknesses of infancy; he knew not the littlenesses of childhood,—he was full-grown at once. Father Adam could not sympathize with me as a babe and a child. But how manlike is Jesus! He does not begin with us in mid-life, as Adam did; but He is cradled with us, He accompanies us in the pains, and feebleness, and infirmities of infancy, and He continues with us even to the grave.

There is sweet comfort in the thought that He who is this day God, was once an infant; so that, if my cares are little, and even trivial and comparatively infantile, I may go to Him with them, for He was once a child. Though the great ones of the earth may sneer at the child of poverty, and say, “You are too mean for us to notice, and your trouble is too slight to evoke our pity;” I recollect, with humble joy, that the King of Heaven was wrapped in swaddling-bands, and carried in a woman’s arms; and therefore I may tell Him all my griefs. How wonderful that He should have been an infant, and yet should be God, blessed for ever! The Holy Child Jesus bridges the great gulf between me and God.

There was never a subject of sweeter song than this,—the stooping down of Godhead to the feebleness of manhood. When God manifested His power in the works of His hands, the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy; but when God manifests Himself, what music shall suffice for the grand psalm of adoring wonder? When wisdom and power are seen, these are but attributes of Deity; but in the Incarnation of Christ, it is the Divine Person Himself who is revealed, though He is, in a measure, hidden in our inferior clay. Well might Mary sing, when earth and Heaven even now are wondering at the condescending grace by which “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

We can never think that God sits on high, indifferent to the wants and woes of men; for He has visited us in our low estate. No longer need we lament that we can never participate in the moral glory and purity of God, for if God in glory can come down to His sinful creature, it is certainly less difficult for Him to bear that creature, blood-washed and purified, up the starry way, that the redeemed one may sit down for ever with Him on His throne. Let us dream no longer, in sombre sadness, that we cannot draw near to God, so that He can really hear our prayers, and relieve our necessities, for Jesus has become bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and, bowing His head to death for us, He has opened that new and living way, by which we may come with boldness, and have access to the throne of the heavenly grace.

Angels sang the story of Christ’s birth; yet, perhaps, they scarcely knew why they did so. Could they understand why God had become man? They must have known that herein was a great mystery of condescension; but all the loving consequences which the Incarnation involved, even their acute minds could hardly have guessed; but we see the whole, and comprehend the grand design most fully. The manger of Bethlehem was big with glory; in Christ’s Incarnation was wrapped up all the blessedness by which a soul, snatched from the depths of sin, is lifted up to the heights of glory. Shall not our clearer knowledge lead us to heights of song which angelic guesses could not reach? Shall the lips of cherubs move to flaming sonnets, and shall we, who are redeemed by the blood of the incarnate God, be treacherously and ungratefully silent?

      “Did archangels sing Thy coming?

         Did the shepherds learn their lays?
      Shame would cover me ungrateful,

         Should my tongue refuse to praise.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 53–56). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

"God With Us," The Mystery of Mysteries

"God With Us," The Mystery of Mysteries

IT must ever remain to us the mystery of mysteries that God Himself was manifest in the flesh. God the invisible was manifest; God the spiritual dwelt in mortal flesh; God the infinite, uncontained, boundless, was manifest in the flesh. What infinite leagues our thought must traverse between Godhead self-existent, and, therefore, full of power and self-sufficiency, before we have descended to the far-down level of poor human flesh, which is, at its best, but as grass, and, in its essence, only so much animated dust! Where can we find a greater contrast than between God and flesh?

Yet the two are perfectly blended in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ the Savior of the lost. “God was manifest in the flesh;” truly God, not God humanized, but God as God. He was manifest in real flesh; not in manhood deified, and made superhuman, but in actual flesh.

Since this matchless truth is “without controversy,” let us not enter into any controversy about it, but let us reverently meditate upon it. What a miracle of condescension is here, that God should manifest Himself in flesh! This is not so much a theme for the tongue or the pen, as something that is to be pondered in the heart. It needs that we sit down in quietness, and consider how He, who made us, became like us; how He, who is our God, became our Brother-man; how He, who is adored of angels, once lay in a manger; how He, who feeds all living things, hungered and was athirst; how He, who oversees all worlds as God, was, as a man, made to sleep, to suffer, and to die like ourselves. This is a statement not easily to be believed. If He had not been beheld by many witnesses, so that men handled Him, looked upon Him, and heard Him speak, it would have been a matter not readily to be accepted that so Divine a Person should ever have been manifest in flesh. It is a wonder of condescension.

And it is, also, a marvel of benediction, for God’s manifestation in human flesh conveys a thousand blessings to us. Bethlehem’s star is the morning star of hope to believers. Now, man is nearest to God of all His creatures; now, between poor puny man that is born of a woman, and the infinite God, there is a bond of union of the most wonderful kind. The Lord Jesus Christ is God and man in one Person. This brings our manhood very near to God, and by so doing it ennobles our nature, it lifts us up from the dunghill, and sets us among princes; while, at the same time, it enriches us by endowing our manhood with all the glory of Christ Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Lift up your eyes, ye down-trodden sons of men, for ye have a brotherhood with Christ, and Christ is God. O ye, who have begun to despise yourselves, and think that ye are merely sent to be drudges upon earth, and slaves of sin, lift up your heads, and look for redemption to the Son of man, who has broken the captives’ bonds! If ye be believers in the Christ of God, then are ye also the children of God; “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”

There is, in this truth, a fullness of consolation, as well as of condescension and benediction; for if the Son of God be man, then He understands me, and He has a fellow-feeling for me. He knows, at times, my unfitness even to worship Him; He knows my tendencies to grow weary and cold in His service; He knows my pains, my trials, and my griefs; yea,—

      “He knows what fierce temptations mean,

         For He has felt the same.”

Man, truly man, yet sitting at the right hand of the Father, Thou, O blessed Savior, art the delight of my soul! Is there not the richest comfort in this truth for all the people of God?

And, withal, there is most gracious instruction, too, for God was manifest in the flesh. If we desire to see God, we must see Him in Christ Jesus. The apostle does not say that God was veiled in the flesh, though under certain aspects that might be true; but he says that “God was manifest in the flesh.” The brightness of the sun might put out our eyes if we gazed upon it, and we must needs look through dim glass, and then the sun is manifested to us; so, the excessive glory of the infinite Godhead cannot be borne by our mind’s eye till it comes into communication and union with the nature of man, and then God is manifest to us.

My soul, never try to gaze upon an absolute God; the brightness of the Deity will blind thine eye, “for our God is a consuming fire.” Ask not to see God in fire in the burning bush, nor in the lightning upon Mount Sinai; be satisfied to see Him in the man Christ Jesus, for there God is manifested. Not all the glory of the sky and of the sea, nor the wonders of Creation and Providence, can set forth the Deity as does the Son of Mary, who from the manger went to the cross, and from the cross to the tomb, and from the tomb to His eternal throne at His Father’s right hand in glory.

That “God was manifest in the flesh,” is one of the most extraordinary doctrines that was ever declared in human hearing. Were it not so well attested, it would be absolutely incredible that the infinite God, who filleth all things, who was, and is, and is to come, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, and the Omnipresent, actually condescended to veil Himself in the garments of our inferior clay. He made us, yet He deigned to take the flesh of His creatures into union with Himself; the Eternal was blended with mortality. That manger at Bethlehem, tenanted by the express image of the Father’s glory, was a great sight indeed to those who understood it. Well might the angels troop forth in crowds from within the gates of pearl, that they might behold Him, whom Heaven could not contain, finding accommodation in a stable with a lowly wedded pair. Wonder of wonders! Marvel of marvels! Mystery of mysteries!

The greatness of this mystery consists, first, in the fact that it concerns God. Any doctrine which relates to the Infinite and the Eternal is of the utmost importance to us. We should be all ear and all heart when we have to learn anything concerning God. Reason teaches us that He who made us, who is our Preserver, and at whose word we are so soon to return to the dust, should be the first object of our thoughts. Turn ye hither, ye wayward children of Adam, and behold this great mystery, for your God is here.

The mystery of God “manifest in the flesh” will also appear to you great if you consider the great honor which is thereby conferred upon manhood. How wonderfully is mankind honored in God’s taking the nature of man into union with Himself! “For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” Whichever of all His creatures shall come nearest to the Creator will evidently have the pre-eminence in the ranks of creatureship; which, then, shall bear the palm? Shall not the seraphs be the chosen ones? Shall not the swift-winged sons of light be chief among Heaven’s courtiers? Behold, and be astonished, a worm of earth is preferred to the angels; rebellious man is chosen, and the sinless angels are passed over! Human nature is espoused into oneness with the Divine!

There is, at this hour, no gulf between God and redeemed man. God is first, but next comes man in the person of the God-man, Christ Jesus. Well may we say, with David, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.” Man became royal when Christ became human. Man was exalted when Christ was humiliated. Man may go up to God now that God has come down to man. This is a great mystery, is it not? A mystery, certainly, but great in every way. See that ye despise it not, lest ye miss the abounding benefit which flows to man through this golden channel.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 47–52). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

"God With Us," Unparalleled Condescension

"God With Us," Unparalleled Condescension

THIS gracious Emmanuel—“God with us”—was the great Creator. “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” He reigned in Heaven as the acknowledged equal with the Father. The angels delighted to do Him homage; every seraph’s wing would fly at His bidding; all the host of Heaven worshiped at His feet. Hymned day without night by all the sacred choristers, He did not lack for praise. Nor did He lack for servants; legions of angels were ever ready to do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word.

All the powers of nature, too, were under His control. He wanted nothing to make Him glorious; all things were His, and the power to make more if He needed them. He could truly say, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof.” It was this God, this Ever-blessed One, who had been from eternity with the Father, and in whom the Father had infinite delight, who looked upon men with the eye of love. He that was born in Bethlehem’s manger, He that lived here the life of a peasant, toiling and suffering, was one with Jehovah.

Well might Isaiah, in his prophetic vision, proclaim the royal titles of the “Child” who was to be born, and the “Son” who, in the fullness of time, would be given to us and for us: “The government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Let this truth sink into our souls, that it was God Himself who came from Heaven to save us from destruction. It was no inferior being, no one like ourselves; but it was “very God of very God” who loved us with an everlasting and infinite affection. I have often turned that thought over in my mind, but I have never been able to express it as I have wished.

If I were told that all the sons of men cared for me, that would be but as a drop in a bucket compared with Jehovah Himself regarding me with favor. If it were said that all the princes of the earth had fallen at some poor man’s feet, and laid aside their dignities that they might relieve his necessities, it would be counted condescending kindness; but such an act would not be worthy to be spoken of in comparison with that infinite condescension and unparalleled love which brought the Savior from the skies to rescue and redeem such worthless rebels as we were. It is not possible that all the condescension of all the kind and compassionate men who have ever lived should be more than as a small grain that could not turn the scale, compared with the everlasting hills of the Savior’s wondrous love.

What amazing condescension is it that God, who made all things, should assume the nature of one of His own creatures, that the Self-existent should be united with the dependent and derived, and the Almighty linked with the feeble and mortal! In His Incarnation, our Lord Jesus Christ descended to the very depths of humiliation, by entering into alliance with a nature which did not occupy the chief place in the scale of existence. It would have been marvelous condescension for the infinite and incomprehensible Jehovah to have taken upon Himself the nature of some noble spiritual being, such as a seraph or a cherub. The union of the Divine Creator with any created spirit would have been an immeasurable stoop; but for God to become one with man, is far greater condescension.

Remember that, in the person of Christ, manhood was not merely an immortal spirit, but also suffering, hungering, dying, flesh and blood. There was taken to Himself, by our Lord, all that materialism which makes up a human body; and that body is, after all, formed out of the dust of the earth, a structure fashioned from the materials which lie all around us. There is nothing in our bodily frame but what is to be found in the substance of the earth on which we live. We feed upon that which groweth out of the earth; and when we die, we go back to the dust from whence we were taken. Is it not a strange thing that this grosser part of creation, this meaner part, this dust of it, should nevertheless be taken into union with that pure, incomprehensible Divine Being, of whom we know so little, and of whom we can really comprehend nothing at all? Oh, the condescension of it! I must leave it to the meditations of your quiet moments. Dwell on it with awe. I am persuaded that no man has any adequate idea how wonderful a stoop it was for God thus to dwell in human flesh, and to be “God with us.”

Yet, to realize in it something that is still more remarkable, remember that the creature whose nature Christ took was a being who had sinned against Him. I can more readily conceive of the Lord taking upon Himself the nature of a race which had never fallen; but, lo! man stood in rebellion against God, and yet a man did Christ become, that He might deliver us from the consequences of our rebellion, and lift us up to something higher than our pristine purity. “Oh, the depths!” is all that we can say, as we look on and marvel at this stoop of Divine love.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 43–46). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

Emmanuel,

Emmanuel, "God With Us"

Emmanuel, "God With Us"

IN addition to explaining the Name of Jesus, and recording its God-given origin, the Holy Spirit, by the evangelist Matthew, has been pleased to refer us to the synonym of it, and so to give us still more of its meaning. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” If, when our Lord was born, and named “Jesus,” the old prophecy which said that He should be called Emmanuel was fulfilled, it follows that the name “Jesus” bears a signification tantamount to that of “Emmanuel,” and that its virtual meaning is “God with us.” And, indeed, He is Jesus, the Savior, because He is Emmanuel, God with us; and as soon as He was born, and so became Emmanuel, the incarnate God, He became by that very fact Jesus, the Savior. By coming down from Heaven to this earth, and taking upon Himself our nature, He bridged the otherwise bridgeless gulf between God and man; by suffering in that human nature, and imparting, through His Divine nature, an infinite efficacy to His suffering, He removed that which would have destroyed us, and brought us everlasting life and salvation. O Jesus, dearest of all names in earth or in Heaven, I love thy music all the better because it is in such sweet harmony with another Name which rings melodiously in mine ears,—Emmanuel, God with us!

Our Savior is God, and therefore He is “mighty to save;” He is God with us, and therefore pitiful; He is Divine, and therefore infinitely wise; but He is human, and therefore full of compassion. Never let us for a moment hesitate as to the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His Deity is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. It may be that we shall never fully understand how God and man could be united in one Person, for who by searching can find out God? These great mysteries of godliness, these “deep things of God,” are beyond our measurement. Our little skiff might be lost if we ventured so far out upon this vast, this infinite ocean, as to lose sight of the shore of plainly-revealed truth.

But let it remain, as a matter of faith, that Jesus Christ, even He who lay in Bethlehem’s manger, and was carried in a woman’s arms, and lived a suffering life, and died on a malefactor’s cross, was, nevertheless, the appointed “Heir of all things,” the brightness of His Father’s glory, “and the express image of His person,” “who thought it not a prize to be grasped to be equal with God,” for that honor was already His, so that He could truly say, “I and My Father are one.”

Jesus of Nazareth was certainly not an angel. That fact the apostle Paul has abundantly disproved in the first and second chapters of his Epistle to the Hebrews. He could not have been an angel, for honors are ascribed to Him which were never bestowed on angels. He was no subordinate deity, or created being elevated to the Godhead, as some have absurdly said. All such statements are as unreliable as dreams and falsehoods. Christ was as surely God as He could be, one with the Father and the ever-blessed Spirit. If it were not so, not only would the great strength of our hope be gone, but the glory of the Incarnation would have evaporated altogether. The very essence of it is that it was God Himself who was veiled in human flesh; if it was any other being who thus came to us, I see nothing very remarkable in it, nothing comforting, certainly. That an angel should become a man, is a matter of no great consequence to me; that some other superior being should assume the nature of man, brings no joy to my heart, and opens no well of consolation to me.

But “God with us” is the source of exquisite delight. “God with us”—all that “God” means, the Deity, the infinite Jehovah with us,—this, this is worthy of the burst of midnight song, when angels startled the shepherds with their carols, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This was worthy of the foresight of seers and prophets, worthy of a new star in the heavens, worthy of the care which Inspiration has manifested to preserve the record.

This, too, was worthy of the martyr-deaths of apostles and confessors, who counted not their lives dear unto them for the sake of the incarnate God; and this is worthy, at this day, of our most earnest endeavors to spread the glad tidings, worthy of a holy life to illustrate its blessed influences, and worthy of a joyful death to prove its consoling power. Well did the apostle say, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” He who was born at Bethlehem is God, and “God with us.” God—there lies the majesty; “God with us,” there lies the mercy. God—therein is glory; “God with us,” therein is grace. God alone might well strike us with terror; but “God with us” inspires us with hope and confidence.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 39–42). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

Christ's Incarnation, The Wonder of Angels

Christ's Incarnation, The Wonder of Angels

Christ's Incarnation, The Wonder of Angels

HOW surprised the angels must have been when they were first informed that Jesus Christ, the Prince of life, intended to shroud Himself in clay, and become a human babe, and live and die upon the earth! We know not how the information was first communicated to the angels; but when the rumor began to circulate among the shining hosts, we may imagine what strange wonderment there was in their lofty minds. What! was it true that He, whose crown was all bedight with stars, would lay that crown aside? What! was it certain that He, about whose shoulders was cast the purple robe of universal sovereignty, would become a man, dressed in a peasant’s garment? Could it be true that He, who was everlasting and immortal, would one day be nailed to a cross? How their wonderment must have increased as the details of the Saviour’s life and death were made known to them. Well might they desire to “look into” these things, which were so surprising and mysterious to them.

And when He descended from on high, they followed Him; for Jesus was “seen of angels,” and seen in a very special sense; for they looked upon Him in rapturous amazement, wondering what it could mean when He, “who was rich, for our sakes became poor.” Do you see Him as, on that day of Heaven’s eclipse, He did, as it were, ungird Himself of His majesty? Can you conceive the increasing wonder of the heavenly hosts when the great deed was actually done, when they saw His priceless tiara taken off, when they watched Him unbind His girdle of stars, and cast away His sandals of gold? Can you conceive what must have been the astonishment of the angels when He said to them, “I do not disdain the womb of the virgin; I am going down to earth to become a man”? Can you picture them as they declared that they would follow Him? They followed Him as near as He would permit them; and when they came to earth, they began to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Nor would they go away till they had made the shepherds also wonder, and till heaven had hung out new stars in honor of the new-born King.

And now wonder, ye angels, as ye see that the Infinite has become an infant. He, upon whose shoulders the universe doth hang, hangs at His mother’s breast. He, who created all things by the word of His power, and who bears up the pillars of creation, hath now become so weak that He must be carried in the arms of a woman! Wonder, ye that knew Him in His riches, whilst ye behold Him in His poverty. Where sleeps the new-born King? Hath He the best room in Cæsar’s palace? Hath a cradle of gold been prepared for Him, and pillows of down, on which to rest His head? No; in the dilapidated stable where the oxen stood, and in the manger where they fed, there the Saviour lies, swathed in the swaddling-bands of the children of poverty. Nor doth He rest long there; on a sudden, His mother must carry Him to Egypt; He must go there, and become a stranger in a strange land. When He came back, and grew up at Nazareth, the angels must have marveled to see Him that made the worlds handle the hammer and the nails, assisting His reputed father in the trade of a carpenter.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 33–35). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

Christ's Incarnation, The Marvel of Mortals

Christ's Incarnation, The Marvel of Mortals

Christ's Incarnation, The Marvel of Mortals

IF the angels were so astonished at Christ’s birth, it is not surprising that man should be filled with holy wonder at the great mystery. That God should have such consideration for His fallen creatures that, instead of sweeping them away with the besom of destruction, He should devise a wonderful scheme for their redemption, and that He should Himself undertake to be their Redeemer, and to pay their ransom price, is, indeed, marvelous.

Probably, it will seem most marvelous to you in its relation to yourself, that you should be redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, that God should forsake the thrones and royalties above to suffer ignominiously below for you. If you truly know yourself, you can never see any adequate motive or reason in your own self for such a wonderful deed as this. “Why should God display such love to me?” you may well ask.

If David, when the Lord revealed to him the honors in store for him and for his family, could only say, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto? And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” what should you and I say? Had we been the most meritorious of individuals, and had we unceasingly kept the Lord’s commands, we could not have deserved such a priceless boon as Christ’s Incarnation; but as we are sinners, offenders, rebels, who have revolted, and continually gone further and further away from God, what shall we say of this incarnate God dying for us, but “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”?

Let your soul lose itself in wonder, for wonder is, in this way, a very practical emotion. Holy wonder will lead you to grateful worship; being amazed at what God has done, you will pour out your soul with astonishment at the foot of the golden throne in the grateful and adoring song, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and majesty, and power, and dominion, and might be unto Him who sitteth on the throne, and doeth these great things to me.”

This wonder will also produce in you godly watchfulness; you will be afraid to sin against such love as this. Feeling the presence of the mighty God in the gift of His dear Son, you will put off your shoes from off your feet, because the place whereon you stand is holy ground.

You will be moved, at the same time, to a glorious hope. If Jesus has given Himself to you, if He has done this marvelous thing on your behalf, you will feel that Heaven itself is not too great for your expectation, and that the rivers of pleasure at God’s right hand are not too sweet or too deep for you to drink thereof. Who can be astonished at anything when he has once learned the mystery of the manger and the cross?

What is there wonderful left after one has seen the Savior? The nine wonders of the world! Why, you may put them all into a nutshell,—machinery and modern art can excel them all; but this one wonder is not the wonder of earth only, but of Heaven and earth, and even of hell itself. It is not the wonder of the olden time, but the wonder of all time, and the wonder of eternity. They who see human wonders a few times, at last cease to be astonished; the noblest pile that architect ever raised, at last fails to impress the onlooker; but not so this marvelous temple of incarnate Deity; the more we look at it, the more we are astonished; the more we become accustomed to it, the more have we a sense of its surpassing splendor of love and grace. There is more of God’s glory and majesty to be seen in the manger and the cross, than in the sparkling stars above, the rolling deep below, the towering mountain, the teeming valleys, the abodes of life, or the abyss of death. Let us then give ourselves up to holy wonder, such as will produce gratitude, worship, love, and confidence, as we think of that great “mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 36–38). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

Christ's Incarnation, Joyous and Personal

Christ's Incarnation, Joyous and Personal

Christ's Incarnation, Joyous and Personal

TO the shepherds the angel said, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people;” and, truly, the angelic message is still the source of joy to all who hear it aright: “Unto you is born … a Saviour.” Rejoice, then, ye who feel that ye are lost; for Christ Jesus the Saviour comes to seek and to save you. Be of good cheer, ye who are in the prison-house of sin, for He comes to set you free. Ye who are famished and ready to die, rejoice that Christ Jesus the Lord has consecrated for you a better Bethlehem, a true “house of bread,” and that He has Himself come to be the bread of life to your souls. Rejoice, O sinners, everywhere, for the Restorer of the castaways, the Saviour of the fallen, is born!

Join in the joy, ye saints, for He is also the Preserver of the saved ones, delivering them from innumerable perils, and He is the sure Perfecter of all whom He preserves. Jesus is no partial Saviour, beginning a work, and never completing it; but, saving and cleansing, restoring and upholding, He also perfects and presents the saved ones, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, before His Father’s face. Rejoice, then, all ye people; let your hills and valleys ring with joy, for a Saviour, who is mighty to save, is born among you.

This joy began with the shepherds, for the angel said to them, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Reader, shall the joy begin with you to-day? It avails you little that Christ is born, or that Christ died, unless unto you a Child is born, and for you Jesus bled. A personal interest in the birth, life, and death of Christ is the main point for each one of us.

“But I am poor,” saith one. So were the shepherds. O ye poor, to you this mysterious Child is born! “The poor have the Gospel preached unto them.” “He shall judge the poor of the people, He shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.”

“But I am obscure and unknown,” saith one. So were the watchers on the midnight plain. Who, save God, knew the men who endured hard toil, and kept their flocks by night? And you, unknown of men, are known to God; shall it not, then, be said that “unto you a Child is born”? The Lord regardeth not the greatness of men, but He hath respect unto the lowly.
Possibly, you say that you are illiterate, you cannot understand much. Be it so; but unto the shepherds Christ was born, and their simplicity did not hinder them from receiving Him, but even helped them to do so. Let it be so with yourself; receive gladly the simple truth as it is in Jesus. The Lord hath exalted One chosen out of the people.

No aristocratic Christ have I to commend to you, but the Saviour of the people, the Friend of publicans and sinners. Jesus is the true “poor man’s Friend;” He is “a Witness to the people, a Leader and Commander to the people.” Oh, that each one of us might truly say, “Unto me is Jesus born”! If I truly believe in Him, Christ is born unto me, and I may be as sure of it as if an angel announced it personally to me, since the Scripture assures me that, if I believe in Jesus, He is mine, and I am His, and through union with Him I become a partaker in His everlasting life, and in all that He has.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 30–32). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 


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