"Mine Eyes Have Seen"

"Mine eyes have SEEN Thy salvation" (Luke 2:25-32).
"He that SAW it bear record, and his record is true" (John 19:30-35).
"We SEE Jesus . . . crowned with glory and honour" (Hebrews 2:6-11).
"We shall SEE Him as He is" (1 John 3:1-3).

I offer you a chain of four golden links. Four passages from the Scriptures for your consideration that show our Lord to us in four different positions. First, coming into the world; second, going out of the world; third, exalted to the highest place in heaven; fourth, coming again. In a manger, on a cross, upon the throne, coming again with clouds of glory. How different the circumstances, yet the same Person, admirable and perfect wherever He is seen.

His Advent

Consider the first. The great hour had arrived, and He who had been promised had come. It was by God's own lips that His coming had been foretold forty centuries before, and faithful men had waited; their eager eyes had longed for the sight of Him, but He had not appeared in their day; they had died in faith but had passed the great hope on to their successors, who had treasured it and passed it on to others in an unbroken line of faith. But now the due time had come, and the Virgin-daughter of David's royal house had brought forth her Firstborn, according to the Scriptures, and laid Him in a manger. The great Deliverer had appeared, but not as some supposed He would come, with mighty hosts attending, and with Power and great glory, to insist upon His rights and to exercise an undisputed sway over all nations on earth, but in weakness, lowliness and unparalleled poverty.

Only the anointed eye could discern who He was, the eye of faith, for though the angels voiced the gladness of heaven, and proclaimed the greatness of that Babe, His lowly birth and great humility made no appeal to men, except to such as Simeon who had the eye of faith. He was an old man, unknown and perhaps poor in the world, but rich in heaven's reckoning, and highly favoured of God. He took the Babe, now eight days old, in his arms, and blessed God, and said, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." What an affecting scene was that! The aged saint who had waited until his natural eyes had grown dim for a sight of God's Salvation, looks upon Him at last and knows Him; his arms embrace Him and he loves Him and presses Him to his heart, and is satisfied and at peace.

Yet things were not as a godly Israelite would have had them in the land. The nation was under the heel of a heathen Gentile power; the proud leaders of it were as dead as corpses towards God, and darkness, demon-possession, and disease held the people in a bitter bondage; there was a great parade of external religion, but underneath the surface, putrefaction and moral death and everything that was hateful to God. Yet Simeon was at rest about it all, for though he saw not yet everything put right, he saw Jesus, and that was enough, the One who would put things right had come.

It is clear that only faith could have given him such rest; unbelief might have argued that some adverse force would appear that would shatter his hopes, or that the One upon whom his eyes rested with adoration and joy, was but a helpless babe, dependent upon His mother, and she one of the poorest in the land, the wife of a village carpenter, but faith saw Him to be Emmanuel, God with us, and was satisfied.

Yet here, indeed, is a marvellous thing; the Babe that lay in the arms of Simeon, was He who had created the hosts of heaven, and without Him nothing was made that was made. He had come forth from the Father, the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, and had come into the world, a human Babe. This is the mystery of the Incarnation. Who would dare to explain it? No creature mind can grasp the immensity of it, yet we can believe and rejoice and give thanks that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world, a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel. Yes. He sent Him from heaven, and He came bringing light and life and love from thence to men in their misery and sin.

That old man with his keen eye and steadfast trust is a pattern for us, and we might well covet the rest of heart that he knew. Things are not as we would have them in the world; confusion and chaos abound; and things are even worse in the church, but has our faith laid hold of the great fact that the Son of God has come and that upon Him help has been laid, and that He can and will undo the works of the devil and bring heaven and earth into reconciliation to God? In the knowledge of this there is peace and rest of heart.

His Exit

Simeon seemed to have realized that the road upon which Christ's holy feet would tread for the accomplishment of God's will would be a rough one, and that men would be tested and exposed by His coming; and it was even so, as we well know who have read and believed the Divine record. We part company with Simeon beholding with adoration the lowly Babe, and we take our stand with John as astonished and bewildered he gazes upon a cross. Thirty-three eventful years had passed between the two, years in which "Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil: for God was with Him," yet in spite of His life and ministry of love He was hated and despised by men; His way was no "royal progress" to a throne; instead

"His path, uncheered by earthly smiles,
Led only to the cross."

And John saw it and bare record, that ye might believe. And herein is a strange thing, for what was it that John saw? He saw his Lord and Master, the One whom he trusted would have redeemed Israel, hanging upon a malefactor's cross, with thorn-crowned head bowed in death, and blood and water flowing from His spear-ripped side. That was a sight that had shattered the faith of many and destroyed their hopes, yet John tells us that he bares record of it, that we might believe. What was there in that sight to command our faith? It looked as though His cause was lost. His foes exulted in what they considered was His extinction. His disciples with the women who had followed Him thought that He had been utterly defeated, and they mourned and wept in hopeless sorrow. But the conclusions of foes and friends were hasty and wrong; it was not defeat but victory, as John had surely learnt when he bore record of it that we might believe. But what are we to believe? We are to believe that God's love is greater than man's hatred, and that there and then, when man's hatred of God broke all bounds and rose up to murder His Son, and drive Him from the world that they claimed as their own, His love triumphed, and

"The very spear that pierced His side
Drew forth the blood to save."

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4). Seeing with the eye of faith what John saw, we exclaim with rapture, "We have known and believed the love that God has for us, God is love." We see not only God's salvation, in His beloved Son, whom He sent into the world, but we see in that cross the great sacrifice, apart from which He could not have been the Saviour, we see Satan defeated, sin expiated and God glorified, and seeing it we believe, and admire, and adore.

His Return to Glory

And now we turn our eyes to the right hand of the Majesty on high, and there we see Jesus, crowned with glory and honour. Yes, the One whom Simeon looked upon, a lowly Babe at His mother's breast, the One whom John saw crucified and dead upon a cross, we see now in the highest place in the glory. God has raised Him from the dead and set Him there. Every Christian heart thrills at the thought of His exaltation, and yet that glory that has received Him has not made Hint more glorious. It was the only place in the universe that was worthy of Him. His disciples anticipated the throne of David for Him, and He shall have it, in due time, with every other throne, but there was only one place that was worthy of Him when He came forth from among the dead, and that was the Father's throne on high. The diamond is put in a golden setting, but its setting does not increase the value of the gem, it is the only fit setting for it; so it is with Jesus, whose Name is now above every name, and who is crowned in heaven with glory and honour, He is in His right setting there. God has said to Him, "Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool," but He is not inactive there, but having passed through all suffering He is the fully-qualified Captain, or Leader, of God's many sons. I should like to deepen the desire within to follow Him, and to awaken and stir up a holy enthusiasm for Him in the hearts of those He has saved.

Psalm 110 is a remarkable Psalm, it is quoted in the New Testament more often than any other. It begins, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool" plainly presenting the Lord as faith sees Him now crowned with glory and honour. The third verse of it is very beautiful, it describes what is yet to be seen in Israel when the Lord shall rule in Zion, but I want to give it a present application, which I feel is wholly just, and for this purpose I will quote it as it is translated in Darby's New Translation. "The people shall be willing (or offer themselves willingly) in the day of Thy power, in holy splendour from the womb of the morning [shall come] to Thee the dew of Thy youth." When all His foes are subdued beneath His feet, and Israel shall surround Him, their Messiah and King, with loud Hosannas, a newborn nation, never more to grieve Him, it will be a thing splendid to behold; but there is a greater splendour, and it may be realized and seen now. This is the day of His rejection by men, He is not wanted by the world, but those who love Him may come to Him with whole-hearted devotion; they may be filled with enthusiasm for Him, and as a newborn race, the children of the morning, they may follow Him with steady steps and loins well girt; they may make their boast in the Lord. This in the eyes of heaven is "holy splendour," and nothing else than this can please our God.

We see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, and it is as the victorious and crowned Saviour that He is leading many sons to glory. Glory is our destiny, for we are following the One who is there. This is all real to men of faith, but not to those who walk by sight, and we must be on our guard against the glamour of "the things that are seen" which dim faith's keen vision, and often betray the Christian into fearing men, or into admiring and following them. But the greatest of men can offer us no destiny. Death is their master, it mocks at their promises, and shatters all their hopes and ambitions. Every day is a witness to this.

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
  And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike th'nevitable hour —
  The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

There is no hope beyond the grave but in Christ. He has overthrown death, and destroyed him who had the power of it, which is the devil, that He might deliver those who through fear of it were all their lifer-time subject to bondage. And in Him we have a hope that maketh not ashamed. He will not fail us, nor be untrue to God who has entrusted Has sons to His care. He is not only a great Leader, but He is "a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God," and He ever liveth to make intercession for us. And that brings us to another side of His activities in the glory for us. If the road is rough, and the trials great, and if the fight waxes fierce and we grow faint, "He has said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," and He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and knows how to sympathize with us and to succour us in our hours of need. He considers us and cares for us and provides the grace that we need, so that when we look to Him and come to His throne of grace, we find the help already prepared and waiting for us. Jesus is not only a great Leader but He is a sympathetic friend. His Name is glorious, and His arm is omnipotent, but His heart is tender. He has won our admiration by His exploits, but He has won our hearts by His love.

His Coming Again

"We shall see Him as He is." That will be the climax of our joy and the consummation of all our hopes, when the stress and strain of our pilgrimage is over and the testing is complete. We shall meet Him and look upon His face; we shall see Him as He is. To the world He will come as the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, to judge and make war, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. But we shall not wail because of Him, for though we too shall see the splendour of His Majesty, we shall see Him and know Him as we have learnt Him here. What He is to us now He will be when we see Him. We shall not meet a stranger whom we fear, but a Saviour and a Friend whom we love; One who has been near to us in our sorrows and carried us through them, who is our daily resource and joy; as He is to us now, so we shall see Him then. What precious experiences have bound us to Him in this valley of weeping, what intimate links we have with Him, and these we shall never lose.

We shall see Him also as the One in whom the Father delights; the Object of the Father's love; and in this we shall have full communion with the Father, and this will be the supreme joy of the Father's house, where the Father's beloved Son is honoured and adored by all. And we are to appear with Him when He comes forth to reconcile all things to God, and when His glory shall shine to the uttermost bounds of the universe that He has created. We shall see Him then, just as blessedly perfect as He was in the manger, and on the cross and on His Father's throne, and every remembrance of Him and every fresh view of His glory will call forth fresh praise from our willing hearts and lips.

He is a great and glorious Saviour, and I wish that I could set Him forth in a worthier way. But this is at once my joy and my grief: my joy that I am able to speak of Him at all; my grief because my words about Him are so cold and dull, when they ought to be words that would move you and thrill you and bring you in holy enthusiasm and full surrender to His feet. But a thousand times better than hearing of Him is to draw near and learn what He is for yourself, and that knowledge that you gain of Him now you will never lose; it will be your prized possession for ever and ever.