John 11:35; Philippians 2:9; Exodus 28:28; John 12:3.
F. A. Hughes. (Substance of an Address)
I desire to speak on the uniqueness of our beloved Lord. Brethren, of course, know He is unique. In the French Bible the very word "unique" is used in John 3:16. He is unique in His birth. The genealogy in Matthew says 42 times that so-and-so begat so-and-so, and at the end of those 42 generations we read that Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus, who is the Christ. Nothing like that was said of any of the others. He came in as the Seed of the woman in all the uniqueness of His blessed Person. Unique in His life — sinless, pure, holy, devoted entirely to the will and pleasure of God. Unique in His death. No one ever died as the Saviour died. No one ever bowed his head and gave up the ghost. He was unique in every aspect of His glorious incarnation.
The end of the Old Testament shows to us the consequences of the lawlessness of men. The last words of the Old Testament infer that a curse rests over the earth; but the first words of the New Testament bring in this glorious Man. He is spoken of as the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. At last there was seen here One who was able to take care of the rights of the throne of God, and One who was able to give effect to every promise made to Abraham. Every promise of God was "Yea and Amen" in that Blessed Man. In Matthew's Gospel we are introduced to a glorious Person who has all power in heaven and on earth — one of the unique references to the Person of Christ. Who else could claim — who else could be capacitated — to hold all power in heaven and on earth? What a wonderful, glorious Person He is! He has power to fill the whole scene with the will of God.
In Mark's Gospel we are told of His uniqueness in service. It is said in Mark that He has done all things well. He had opened men's ears to hear the revelation of God and had opened men's lips to respond to God in praise. In Luke's Gospel He is unique in His compassions. The first recorded words of Christ are given to us in Luke's Gospel, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" His Father is the Father of compassions. So the blessed Saviour is unique in His compassions. Unique in His power; unique in His service; unique in His affections.
In John's Gospel, too, He is unique. He is introduced to us as bringing the glory of eternity into this scene. The eternal Son ever dwelling in the bosom of the Father, bringing here light and life and the knowledge of God in all its blessedness. He could say in the fourth chapter "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water." As bringing into this scene the atmosphere of eternity the Gospel shows that the world itself is not capacitated to record all He did or said. It will need an eternity, beloved, for His glory to be manifested in all its blessedness and durability, and we shall be there to thank Him for it. Think of Abraham! "He rejoiced to see My day" said the Lord, "he saw it and was glad." What a wonderful moment that was! I believe it was the moment when Isaac was weaned, and there was brought in a joy that was infectious — a joy that filled the scene. Sarah had beforehand laughed in irony but she laughed now in absolute joy, and she said, "All that hear will laugh with me." The One Seed, which is Christ, is capacitated to fill the whole scene with holy mirth and with holy joy. He is unique in that. There is no other Person in the universe who can fill the scene with holy joy, but Christ.
I think of Isaiah, quoted in John 12, "These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him." He spake of Him in that day as One who fills the heavens and the earth with glory. If, on the one hand, He can fill the scene with unmingled, unalterable joy, He fills the scene also with unalloyed, unchangeable glory. What a blessed Person is this Saviour, this unique, this glorious Christ of God! How unique He was in opening men's eyes to see the glory of His person, and the glory of God. In all His instructions to His disciples He never gave them power to open men's eyes. They could heal lepers; they could raise the dead; they could heal the sick but they could not open men's eyes. Paul only is said to open men's eyes, and that is a moral thought. Much more could be said of this glorious Person, this precious, precious Christ of God.
The link between these four Scriptures is a word used in each which is not found anywhere else in the whole of the Bible. In John 11:35 we get the name of "Jesus," which, of course, is unique, but this word "wept" is not to be found elsewhere in the Scriptures. You will tell me He wept over Jerusalem, so he did; that He was heard for His much crying, indeed, He was! That blessed Person was unique in His sympathy. O beloved, let us draw near to Christ and take account of the unique preciousness of His Person. I do not think that His weeping here was confined to the sorrows of Martha and Mary. Doubtless they would be included. He was about to give them their brother back again, to turn their sorrow into joy. He was weeping over the devastation of death and sin which had been brought into this scene, with its dishonour to God. This glorious Person felt the condition of things around as they affected the honour and glory of the blessed God.
There is a man in Scripture who has a name which is not repeated. No other man was named as he was named — his name is Ephraim. You may find Ephraimites, but you will not find another person named Ephraim. His name means "double fruitfulness." Think of the fruitfulness of the true Ephraim — the Christ of God — in this scene. Ephraim was the younger of the two, and Jacob put his hand knowingly upon those two boys — his right hand upon Ephraim, his left upon Manasseh — and he did it with spiritual intelligence for he says "I know it, I know it, my son." He understood that the second man was to have preference over the first. For twenty years he lived in Laban's house and Laban said it was not the custom in his land to put the younger before the elder. This world is content to go on with the first man, but our eyes have been opened to see the blessedness of the Second Man, the Christ from heaven. He mourned over the calamity that had come in amongst the people of God. How singular that is, that a man whose name is not repeated, who stands uniquely in that respect, a man who involves the double fruitfulness which Christ will yet bring in, mourns over the calamities that have come upon the people of God. Beloved, we talk about difficulties, we enlarge perhaps, upon them, but do we weep? Let us look upon the uniqueness of the Christ of God as He stands there with all power in His blessed hands — able to do all things well — as Mark tells us, filled with compassion, the glory of His Person shining out in all its blessedness, unique in all those things but unique in the way in which he takes account of death and fear which had devastated the creation of the blessed God.
We live in a day of disintegration — a day of Laodicean conditions and departure from the truth. Do we weep over it, beloved? I want to call your attention to the uniqueness of the tears of Jesus. There were no tears like His. If our hearts are set upon that blessed Person, difficulties will be removed as we weep out before God our sense of the shame that has come in, in regard to that which was so precious in the eyes of Christ that He gave Himself for it. He wept; He wept! but, thank God He has been highly exalted. He came down in lowly grace bringing the atmosphere of heaven with Him. While here upon earth He could say the "Son of Man which is in heaven." The atmosphere of heaven is where the honour of God is revealed and He came to establish a sphere in which the honour of God should be supreme. It cost Him His life. I would point to that blessed Person, not only in His tears but in His exaltation. "Highly exalted" is one word in Greek. It can only be found here in Philippians. It is a general principle that he who humbles himself shall be exalted, but this is an entirely different word. The Holy Spirit brings in a unique word to express the wonder of the tears of Jesus, and, thank God, He brings in this unique word which applies only to Christ. He gives us to know that He, in whom men saw no beauty — whom men reviled, has been "highly exalted" and the exaltation of Christ is something unique in this universe. If you turn to the Colossian Epistle you will find there His pre-eminence is spoken of — He must have the pre-eminence. Diotrophes may claim it, but Christ must have it! He is the Head of creation: He is the Head of every man; He is the Head of the Church. He is the One by whom God is going to reconcile everything to Himself — already having reconciled the saints. In that day of reconciliation it is said things in heaven and things on earth will be reconciled, but when you come to the Scripture in Philippians it is not a question of reconciliation but of subjugation. What a glorious Person Christ is! How blessed, beloved, is this unique Person, your Saviour and mine, with His ability to bring in unique joy and His ability to fill the earth with a compassion never seen before. One able to reveal to us the fulness of the Father's heart, and at the same time to see in Him the fulness of the Godhead. His tears were unique; His exaltation at God's right hand is unique. He has been seen there. I am thinking of Paul. The light that shines is a light beyond the brightness of the sun at noon-day. It is the same word used by Luke in his Gospel when he speaks of a light which is from one end of the earth to the other. He is able to fill the whole scene with the light and glory of God. He is incomparable. He is unique in glory. Peter says they "were eye witnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." O the blessedness of these words "Hear Him." He stands unchangeable — "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today, and for ever."
In Exodus we get another unique word — the "curious girdle." Aaron's girdle was unique. The word used is entirely different from the word used for the girdles of the sons. What was its unique occupation? To see that the breastplate was not loosed from the ephod. Ponder this Scripture for yourselves. You will get far more out of it than I could possibly say. "That the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod." This is unique; a link which is found nowhere else. "Bind the breastplate to the ephod," what does it mean? O the uniqueness of the priesthood of Christ! "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." Our names, beloved, are on that breastplate! Borne upon His affections and there is a link which binds that breastplate to our heavenly priest. Nothing can come in to break that link. He intercedes for us who are held secure in the heart of our Great High Priest. His priestly service holds us, secures us — "that the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod." A glorious Person, unique in His tears, unique in His exaltation, unique in His priestly service and in His love to you and me.
Beloved brother and sister, bereavement comes; sorrow comes; failure comes; depression comes but nothing can break the link of the "curious girdle" — that unique link, which binds us to our Great High Priest in heaven. Our names are there held in His holy, unique affections; and His priesthood is ever available to every one of His saints. Is He not a unique, glorious Priest? Death cannot touch Him — "He ever liveth" — the One whose death is unique and who is now at the right hand of God.
There is another title which is unique to Christ that is "Son of Man." No one else in Scripture is called the Son of Man. Characteristically some were so called but He only is called the Son of Man. As Son of Man He came to suffer; as Son of Man He came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many. Reviled as the Son of Man He is glorified as the Son of Man. Stephen says "I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." No one else has the right to be at the right hand of God. It is a place uniquely His.
May the Lord enable us to appreciate these things; His unique tears; His unique exaltation; His unique service during this present dispensation.
What now shall I say about John 12 where the New Translation gives "pure nard"? This word is found nowhere else. If the uniqueness of Jesus in humiliation, exaltation and service fills our hearts should not our response to him be unique? Mary's response was. She sat at His blessed feet that she might see His glory and know His sympathy. His glory had been demonstrated — Lazarus came forth and death and corruption fled. "Loose him and let him go." Where was he to go? The next chapter tells us it was to sit at the feet of Jesus. Beloved, we have been set free from death and corruption to be in the atmosphere where there is a unique response to His own blessed heart. O those precious feet of Christ! Nebuchadnezzar's image had gold at the top and nothing but shambles and chaos at the bottom. Of Christ the bride says His head is of pure gold; His legs are set on sockets of pure gold. What He is in deity is equal to what He is in humanity. There is no deterioration in Christ, He is unique in His Personality. He is unique in His movements — beautiful upon the mountains are those feet, soon to go to the cross. Is it any wonder, brethren, that the Holy Spirit has said that wherever this gospel is preached that incident shall be recorded? Do you wonder when you think of the unique and absolute devotion and response of Mary to the love of Christ? The Holy Spirit has put His seal upon it and has said that action shall never be forgotten.
Beloved young people, what about your devotion to Christ? Are those blessed feet which moved to Calvary's cross for you and me calling out from our hearts a blessed appreciation of His love and of the glory of His Person? The house was filled with the odour of the ointment! Mary has passed on; all who sat at the feet of Jesus that day are gone, but, beloved, the Holy Spirit has seen to it that the fragrance and odour of that offering has remained. Is there something in your life; is there something in my life which will remain? Is there an appreciation — a response — to the uniqueness of the One who wept; the One who is exalted; the One who day and night serves us unceasingly? How unique should be the response to that glorious Person of whom God has said "He must have the pre-eminence."