He Dwelt Among Us

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . . full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

What an amazing fact is revealed to us in this short sentence. He who WAS when time was not, at whose fiat the pendulum of time began to swing, who set all the forces of nature into motion, and made the universe pulsate with life; Who is Himself personally the exact expression of the infinite thoughts and eternal glory of the Godhead — the ever-existing Word — He became flesh and dwelt among us, taking part in flesh and blood that He might come near to us without making us afraid; it is this that fills the souls of those who have received Him with wonder and worship.

He did not come as a king might come to visit His subjects in their cottage homes, speaking a kindly word to them, and then passing on and forgetting them: He dwelt among us. There was no aloofness about Him; He entered into the circumstances of life; He entered into the joys and sorrows of men, as well as into their houses. He came near to them, became infinitely accessible to even the poorest and the worst, He dwelt among us full of grace and truth.

It is recorded in this Gospel and in none other — a significant fact — that He accepted an invitation to a marriage feast. It is recorded also in this Gospel and in none other — a significant fact — that He wept beside the grave of the dead. These two — the marriage feast and the covered grave — are the brightest and the darkest episodes in human life, and He "dwelt among us" in them, and in them He manifested His glory, and "His disciples believed on Him." And were there any days or circumstances between these two extremes from which He withdrew and in which He was not available to men?

We say with deepest reverence that He took men as He found them; He demanded no special treatment from them; He was full of compassion for their sorrows, He did not grow impatient at their ignorance and weakness, nor condemn them for their sins.

He was ready to set the TRUTH before a man of the Pharisees when he came to Him, and was so full of GRACE that He did not rebuke the cowardice that made Him creep out in the darkness for that memorable interview.

His GRACE took Him to Sychar's well to talk with a lonely and tired sinner there, and He poured the TRUTH into her soul so abundantly that she returned to her city a new creature, with Himself as her absorbing theme. And mark well His way in that story. The distance was great to where that solitary sinner sighed and sorrowed, yet no camel or ass bore him over the weary miles, for He was a poor man; He must take that journey, every step of it, on foot; and tired and hungry and thirsty He met her — met her as one wayfarer would meet another — and talked with her so gently that she felt neither restraint nor fear in His presence. How truly He "dwelt among us," and how full of grace and truth was He in that dwelling; for He let not His lowliness and the poverty of His circumstances, and the way in which He "dwelt among us," hide from our souls the glory of His person. He was "THE WORD," "THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON IN THE BOSOM OF THE FATHER."

What a never-failing, ever-growing charm this Gospel of Gospels has for our souls! How infinite are the heights in which it takes its rise, how deep are the depths into which it flows. Grace and truth are there in Him who dwelt among us, even while he still dwelt in the bosom of the Father as the Only Begotten Son. He has brought the love of that bosom to us, and revealed it, not as something to be admired on the Sabbath day in the temple, but as that which would labour seven days in the week, seeking no rest, in order to relieve the needs of men and fill their souls with joy. And TRUTH was in Him — He came from the highest height of God's glory to reveal it; and GRACE also — He stooped to the deepest depth of our need to meet it; and He has filled the immeasurable distance between the height and the depth with the light of His own glory.

We speak not here of the time when He left the dwellings of men, and passed alone into the darkness as the sin-bearer — the scapegoat bearing our guilt into the land uninhabited; when, without a friend or comforter, He, who had been the friend of all, was smitten of God and forsaken for our sakes. That, indeed, was the great purpose of His coming, and to fulfil that purpose He set His face steadfastly, and the fact that that was to be the end of His life here, and that He knew it, makes all the more wonderful that continuous self-forgetting service amongst men. "My Father works hitherto and I work" summed up His life day by day until the end.

That which He declared here abides for us. What He was He is, and what He was the Father is; for He said "He that has seen Me has seen the Father." How infinitely attractive to our souls has the Father become since He has been revealed to us so blessedly in JESUS, who dwelt among us.

Death and resurrection have not changed Him. See Him standing upon the banks of Tiberias. Yonder upon the deep toil His disciples, dispirited and forlorn. It was lack of faith that took them out to fish that night, and their labour had been in vain. But does He rebuke them? Nay; He fills their nets, as the mighty Creator; then, as tenderly as a mother caring for her weary child, He addresses Himself to their need. They were cold and He lighted a fire to warm them; they were hungry and His own hand prepared a meal for them; and He sat in the midst of them and fed them Himself. And there was a backslider amongst them — indeed, they were all backsliders — but this did not change His love; and they were to rest — not in what they were but in what He was, not in their love to Him but His love to them. And so have we (John 21).

How gladly we bring to Him, our Saviour, who is so incomparably blessed, our tribute of praise:

"Fairer than all the earth-born race,
  Perfect in comeliness Thou art;
Replenished are Thy lips with grace
  And full of love Thy tender heart.
God ever blest! we bow the knee,
And own all fullness dwells in Thee."