The Glory of the Incarnate Savior!
George Everard, 1884
"The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14.
It is the will of God that men should glory in Christ alone. He is called "the glory of His people Israel" (Luke 2:32). Christ is He the glory of the true Israel of God. In Him "shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory" (Isaiah 45:25).
Unto the children of God, Jesus is "wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that, according as it is written, He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:30, 31).
To glory in Christ brings glory and honor to the Father; for "He who honors the Son honors the Father also."
To glory in Christ, is the secret of true rest and peace. We may not glory in ourselves. We may not glory in riches or natural gifts, or the praise of man, or in any attainments we may make. We must learn to abase ourselves; to own our utter insufficiency, our ignorance, our exceeding sinfulness, our inability to do anything aright of ourselves — and resort to Christ and glory in Him as the spring of all hope, strength, and consolation.
But how may this be? How may you learn thus to glory in Christ and rejoice in Him evermore? It can only be as you learn to know more of Him . . .
in His glorious person,
in His unblemished character,
in His wondrous Word,
in His marvelous work of salvation,
and in His sacred offices.
Hence Christians are bidden to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).
Therefore let it be your constant prayer, "Lord Jesus, show me Your glory! Manifest Yourself to me! Make me to know You more fully, that I may trust You and love You more and more."
In this spirit, study these words of the Beloved Apostle. In this passage He reveals to us bright rays of the Redeemer's glory. May each glimpse of Christ which we behold here, draw our hearts more closely to Him!
First we have in this passage the glory of Christ in a past eternity. The Divine nature of Christ shines out very clearly in these words. He is not a frail growth of time, a very beautiful flower of humanity — but the Rock of Ages, the Eternal One manifesting Himself in a garment of flesh. He is spoken of by a title never applied but to Himself, "the only-begotten of the Father." He is spoken of as "The Word" who was in the beginning with God, and who was God. He is described as the Mighty Creator, for "all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made" (5:3).
Three times in the New Testament is He thus spoken of as the Author of Creation. In this passage, twice is the crown of creating power placed upon His head (verses 3 and 10). In the Epistle to the Colossians we have the same truth set before us, in a still stronger light. He is the Upholder and Preserver of all things, as well as their Creator. Moreover, taking the widest possible range of creating power, everything is declared to be "for Him" as its end and purpose.
"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. He is before all things, and by Him all things are held together" (Colossians 1:16, 17).
Again, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we have the same view of His glory. Side by side with His redeeming work in purging away our sins, are we told that the Father "by Him made the worlds," and, moreover, that He upholds "all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:2, 3).
Here is one ground for a Christian's glorying. The Savior in whom you trust, is the eternal Son of God. He is one with the Father. He is the Creator of all worlds, and by His own might, He holds up the pillars of the universe. Can you not trust a Savior like this? You are a poor trembling child of dust. You are often ready to faint, and your heart sinks within you as you survey troubles that threaten you, and temptations that you cannot withstand. But rejoice in this, that you have a strong Savior. He is very near to the Father, and He can bring you near and keep you near to Him in favor and loving-kindness. He created all things, and He can create you anew "in righteousness and true holiness."
When no means are apparent for some pressing emergency — He who made all things out of nothing can provide easily for your urgent need. When you feel utterly helpless — He who made the strong mountains can make you strong by the in-working of His grace. He who puts forth His arm to hold up every planet in its course — can uphold you in your Christian walk in spite of manifold hindrances and stumbling-blocks. "You have a mighty arm! Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand!" Yes, Lord Jesus, on Your mighty arm I will lean! Your strong hand shall hold my feeble one! Your right hand, which is as high as Heaven over all the powers of evil, shall put down all my spiritual foes, and lift me up to Your own glory and kingdom!
But we have here a second feature of Christ's glory, that of His incarnation and birth. When You took upon Yourself the mission to deliver man, You did not abhor the virgin's womb. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Though this gospel tells us nothing of the story of Gabriel's visit and the subsequent history of His conception and birth — yet are they clearly implied in the words of the Apostle.
"Will God in very deed dwell with man on the earth?" In Paradise, He came and walked with man as a friend walks with a friend. Through the Jewish dispensation, He dwelt with His people in type and shadow in the temple, in the pillar-cloud, and by the Angel of His presence manifested from time to time. But now in the fullness of time, He has come and dwelt with man as never before. We know the wondrous story. As Advent and Christmas come round year by year, we see the lowly maiden of Nazareth, and remember the marvelous honor that was put upon her. We visit the plains of Bethlehem, and hear the voice of the heavenly visitor, "I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people — for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." We visit the stable at the inn, and we behold the only sinless infant that was ever seen on earth; the Sinless One — yet the sin-bearer, the Savior!
And what is the special glory of Christ in His incarnation? Surely, it is the glory of His condescension.
So high — yet so lowly!
The God whom the Heaven of heavens cannot contain — yet wrapped in swaddling-clothes and lying in a manger!
The Upholder of all things — and yet nourished at a mother's bosom!
The King of the Eternal Palace, the One who dwelt in the High and Holy Place — and yet "no room for Him in the inn."
Ah, what a lesson for proud man, such we can learn nowhere else! Did He in lowly guise stoop so low for you to redeem, to save, to bless — and will you through pride reject the benefit? If He became so humble to bring to your door the glorious promise of life — will you refuse to take a low place, to own your sin, to become as a little child, that you may enter His Kingdom?
Shall He stoop to save — and will you not stoop to be saved?
Yes, Lord, Your humility, Your condescension, has shattered in pieces my tower of pride. No longer will I glory in myself or in anything I have. I will be nothing, if only You, the lowly One, will come and abide with me. For now, Lord, You condescend to dwell in the lowly cottage of the human heart. Come thus and dwell in me and stay with me all my days!
A third feature of Christ's glory shines forth in these words. He not only descended to earth and took our nature upon Him, but "He dwelt among us." He pitched His tent here below, and lived nearly half the lifetime of man among the children of sin and sorrow. Oh, what a shining forth of pity and mercy and goodness was here! He might have descended from Heaven, and then, having wrought some mighty deliverance for man, have at once returned to His home in glory. But for three and thirty long years, the Son of God lived as a brother-man, "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."
Some of us have read much of late of the bitter cry of outcast London. It is well we should hear that cry. It is well we should feel most deeply for the wretchedness, the hopeless gloom, the mingled wickedness, the temptation, and the terrible sorrows that encompass tens of thousands in our great cities. It is well also we should bear in mind that no leverage less than the glorious gospel of God's grace in Jesus can ever raise them from it.
But consider for a moment what it would be for a man of virtuous life and refined taste, to live some two or three years in the midst of such dens of vice and misery. And what must it have been for the holy Son of God, so sensitive to the evil around, so tender-hearted, to have lived for nearly the third of a century in our sinful, sorrowful world — presenting such a contrast to the High and Holy Place where forever He had abode in fellowship with the Father!
And what a glory shone forth from that wondrous life of His! What a glory rested upon Him in those scenes where the Father bore witness of Him, as in His baptism and transfiguration! What a glory was there in those words of love and grace which fell from His lips, and which have been such a precious heritage to His Church ever since! What a glory was there in each of those works of mercy when He healed the sick, and raised the dead, and cleansed the leper, and opened the eyes of the blind! What Divine Majesty shone out from beneath the humble garb of the Nazarene, when He could feed a multitude with a few loaves and fishes, or still the angry waves with the command, "Peace, be still!"
Still brighter was the glory that shone forth from the patient Lamb of God during His last sufferings! There was scarcely any possible form of shame or suffering which was not mingled in His cup.
And through it all, there was scarcely any possible virtue or grace that did not stand forth in its very brightest colors. What unshaken courage, as He so bravely faced His enemies, and testified of His coming glory! What meekness and long sufferance was there in the silence which bore up against all that was spoken or done against Him! What unselfish kindness in His words to the women who followed Him, in His touch of the ear of Malchus, in His thoughtfulness for the safety of His disciples in the garden, and the comfort of His mother after His death. What prayerfulness, what trustfulness, what perseverance in well-doing do we see right on to the end!
Christian, ever behold this glory of Christ, and some reflection of it will illumine your own character. There is no way to become holy, as sure as the calm, reverential, and loving study of Christ's beautiful life and death!
Looking for the aid of God's Holy Spirit, gaze upon Christ and ponder every incident of His wonderful sojourn here below.
From a single word or sentence there will often come forth some exquisite trait of holiness, faith, or love, that will be a fresh jewel in our crown, if we are enabled in any way to live it out in our own Christian life. O, let your thoughts and meditations move in the atmosphere of Christ's life and death! Reckon no time lost which brings you more knowledge of him!
"I journey through a desert drear and wild,
Yet is my heart by such sweet thoughts beguiled,
Of Him on whom I lean, my strength, my stay,
I can forget the sorrows of the way.
Thoughts of His love — the root of every grace
Which finds in this poor heart a dwelling-place;
The sunshine of my soul, than day more bright,
And my calm pillow of repose by night.
Thoughts of His sojourn in this valley of tears;
The tale of love, unfolded in those years
Of sinless suffering and patient grace,
I love again and yet again to trace.
Thoughts of His death; upon the cross I gaze,
And there behold its sad yet healing rays;
Beacon of hope, which lifted up on high,
Illumes with heavenly light, the tear-dimmed eye."
Yet once again behold the glory of Christ in this passage. The Evangelist cannot close this view of the Incarnate Savior, without fixing our thoughts upon one thing. He was "full of grace and truth."
In the law was severity and shadow, judgment without mercy against sin — it was but the type and figure of the good things of the Gospel. But in Christ is the very opposite. In Him is abounding grace to meet all forms of sin; in Him is the reality and the substance of all spiritual blessings.
To Him, man may come for all needs to be supplied and for all sins to be forgiven.
"O Jesus, full of truth and grace,
More full of grace than I of sin,
Yet once again I seek Your face,
Open Your arms and take me in;
And freely my backslidings heal,
And love the penitent sinner still."
Where is there a soul down deep in the depths of sin and utter misery and woe? For such a one, there is grace in Jesus.
I remember one in fair position of life, who had in former days been a governess, but through the power of strong drink had fallen very low. When I spoke to her of a better life, she pointed downwards with a despairing look, "I'm down there!" "Yes," I said, "that is true, but Christ's arm reaches you 'down there.' He pities you 'down there,' and His grace is enough to raise you up to peace and hope."
I had some reason to think that the word was not in vain, and that she looked to Him who is able to save to the uttermost.
You likewise may be down — down in the very depths of sin and darkness and despair.
Past guilt, like a huge mountain in your path, bars your progress.
Strong temptations threaten to drag you still lower.
Your circumstances may be all against you, and hinder you rising to anything better and nobler.
Yet, remember, Christ is full of grace, and that grace is for you if you will but repent and ask for it. Let this be your refuge and your hope. Lift up your eyes to Him whose arm is almighty, and reaches down to you just where you are.
Look up to Him who never yet despised a sinner, however vile.
And yield yourself wholly to Him.
Believe that He will take you as you are.
Believe that He will freely forgive all that is past.
Believe that His rich and free grace will meet all your need, and overcome all your temptations.
Believe that He will make a way of escape from all the bitter ills which now oppress you.
Believe and rejoice.
You shall not be disappointed.
Only keep looking to Him.
You are full of sin — but He is full of mercy.
You are full of all that is vile, and carnal, and earthly — but He is full of the grace that can lift you above it.
You are full of sore trouble — but He is full of consolation, binding up the broken-hearted, and comforting all that mourn.
Therefore go to Jesus; trust in Jesus; cling to Jesus; glory in Jesus — and you shall have cause hereafter to rejoice that His power, and goodness, and grace, have made you a monument of mercy to His own eternal praise.