The Son of God is Come

It is our earnest desire that our readers, the young as well as the old, for we write for both, should be stimulated in their affections towards the Lord, and react to His great love in decided and intelligent devotion to Him and in the recognition of His desires and His rights. Too many who owe their hope of eternal glory to Him are sadly indifferent to His thoughts and to the PRESENT results of His coming into the world. This should not be so. Our prayer is that there may be a definite and widespread recovery to the truth that we endeavour to present in this paper.

"We know that the Son of God is come." And no event in the history of mankind can move us like this; it commands our deepest interest, for He came for us and gave Himself for us, so great was His love. Our present peace of heart and our hope of eternal glory are the result to us of His coming. He would be a strange and self-centred Christian who could be indifferent as to how He came and the reception He received at His coming, and what He has gained for Himself by His coming. We have often turned with great delight to the opening chapter of John's Gospel, where in relation to His coming His many glories are declared. His glory had no beginning, for in Being He is eternal, and in the beginning He was there, the Word, by Whom all things were made. But He, the Supreme, the Creator, came into this world that He had made. Let the fact of who He is who came impress itself afresh on our souls. He came to dwell among men and reveal to them what God's feelings and desires for them were, and apart from Him God cannot be known, and let us consider well this great fact also. And so the first chapter of John reveals His many glories; it is an epitome of the whole Gospel and closes with the heavens open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

We have exulted in that side of the chapter and will exult in it more and more as we see greater things in it than we have hitherto seen, but there is another side to it and solemn statements occur in it, which when they strike us in their full force grieve and shock us. We are told in verse 10 that "the world knew Him not," though He had made it; in verse 26, "the Jews knew Him not," though He stood in their midst, the Messiah and King of that long-favoured people. And even John the Baptist had to confess, "And I knew Him not" (v. 31), and again, "I knew Him not" (v. 33), When the Son of God came, He was not welcomed by the world. He was unknown and a stranger in it. The world that owed its existence to Him did not know Him; the religionists who boasted in their knowledge of God did not know Him, and even John could not by any natural power that he possessed perceive who He was, He needed a revelation from heaven to enlighten him. These are solemn and searching facts.

This is an exposure indeed, and it explains verse 5 of our chapter. "The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." But if the light shone long enough and bright enough, would not the darkness yield to it and men recognise their God come down to them full of grace and truth? Well, let us see; we pass on to chapter 3:19 and read, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." It is not said yet, they hated the light, though that was to come, but, they loved the darkness; they wanted God to remain far from them, for the knowledge of Him and their evil ways could not exist together; they felt this and they would not have God for they were determined to pursue their evil ways. But the light continued to shine in the uncomprehending darkness in all the words and works of Jesus. Take as an instance the case of the man at the Pool of Bethesda, who for 38 years had looked and longed for a man to help him, but had looked and longed in vain, for there was not one among all the multitude of priests and Pharisees that paid any heed to his need — him the Lord raised up from his impotence on the Sabbath day to show them in the city of their sanctuary and solemnities that there could be no sabbath, no day of rest, for His Father or for Him in the world where sin and suffering were; and again, in distant Galilee, when He fed the multitude with bread and fish, He desired them to understand that the compassions of God reached out to the utmost limits of the land, and that the poor and the hungry were His care.

What activities of grace were these in which God Himself was revealed! Did they move the world and its leaders? Yes; they moved them, but it was to anger and the determination to quench the light and to kill Him in whom it shone. They said, "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil" (chap. 8:48). They took up stones to stone Him and said, "Thou blasphemest" (chap. 10), and they "took counsel together for to put Him to death" (chap. 11:53). They hated the light. But as long as He was in the world He was the light of the world, and He continued to work the works of Him that sent Him while it was day, but the night was surely coming. So in chapter 12 He spoke His last words to the world and urged them to believe in the light while they had the light, that they might be the children of light, but it was all in vain, for though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him, and He had to say — with what sorrow of heart who shall tell — "Now is the judgement of this world." It had been fully tested and it had shown its disposition and temper under the test; it did not know the light; it could not appreciate it; it hated it, and was determined to be rid of it. There was no further hope for the world as the world; it loved the darkness, and its doom was sealed.

From chapter 13 to 17 He was alone with "His own" for a few brief hours, and when Judas, the traitor, had gone out into the night to join the forces of darkness that were combining to crush Him, He was able to disclose to them the deepest feelings of His heart, but that little while soon passed, and in chapter 18 His seclusion in the garden beyond the brook Cedron was broken upon by a band led by Judas and officers from the chief priest, who bound Him and led Him away to trial and suffering and death. Jew and Gentile, priests and rabble, Herod and Pilate, the whole world, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, were united at last; one purpose controlled them, and that purpose was to cast the Son of God out of the world. And God withdrew His restraint and let them have their way, and "They took Jesus, and led Him away. And He bearing His cross, went forth into a place called the place of a skull; which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha: where they crucified Him . . . And He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head and gave up the ghost . . . And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true."

What did he see? The Son of God dead upon a malefactor's cross! The Light of the world cast out! The One who had a right to everything cut off with nothing! It was a triumph for the darkness that pervaded the world; and the prince of it tightened his shackles upon it; he was its god, and the whole world lay in his power. I am not forgetting the divine side of the cross, or the way that God gains His great victories, but that is not my subject now. Said Peter to the Jews, "Him . . . ye have taken, and with wicked hands have crucified and slain." Stephen said, "Ye have been the betrayers and murderers of the just One," and Paul said, "The princes of this world . . . have crucified the Lord of glory." And these three men spake by the Holy Ghost. These are facts that none who would be faithful in Christ Jesus can ignore.

Consider the position. The Son of God lay in a tomb, and His few scattered followers wept and lamented, while the world that hated the light rejoiced. He, before whom every knee ought to have bowed, had been refused all His rights, His Name had been struck from the Royal pedigree and written upon the criminal roll of Jerusalem — and "who shall declare His generation" — "He was numbered with the transgressors." The world did not know that by that act, it had signed its own judgment warrant, and that as the world there could be nothing for it but judgment to come; but that was the fact, a fact that abides today in all its force, even though the long-suffering of God holds back the judgment, while He gathers out of the world a people for His Name.

But what of Him whom the world had rejected? Was He to have nothing as a result of His coming into it? Let us see. Of course death could not hold Him; "It was not possible that He should be holden of it." His disciples ought to have known that; it was strange that they did not, for the Scriptures foretold it. God would not suffer His Holy One to see corruption. He raised Him up, having loosed the pains of death. And then a marvellous work began. The Lord did not manifest Himself to the wicked and jubilant leaders of the people, and vindicate His Name and glory by their destruction; He revealed Himself to Mary, out of whom He had cast seven devils; He sought out Simon Peter, who had denied Him with oaths and curses; He went after two people of no account, who had lost all their faith and hope in Him, and decided that the best thing they could do was to return to the life they had lived before they met Him. And these labours of His on that resurrection day brought together ten men — there may have been more — and as they talked of Him, He stood in the midst of them, and showed them His hands and His side. "THEN WERE THE DISCIPLES GLAD WHEN THEY SAW THE LORD."

Consider that group of men in that upper room; they were not great, or influential, or courageous, but the LORD stood in the midst of them, and they were glad to see Him and to have Him there. He was LORD. Indeed to them, they owned His rights and with joy yielded to Him the place of authority. There He had a circle which was "His own," in which His will was supreme; it was His assembly, in which His love could flow out upon His loved ones and find a response of gratitude and love in them. This then He had gained by His coming into the world; a company drawn out of it, and bound to Himself, not by any legal bonds as might obtain between a master and his servants, but by cords of love: "for having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end," and the wounds in His hands and side, which He showed them, were the ineffaceable evidence of that love which had suffered and survived even the death of the cross for them.

How great was the contrast between that company of men and the world outside that had utterly rejected their Lord! And here comes a question that should test us all. If we had been in Jerusalem that day, what company would we have chosen? Would we have been with the Christ-hating priests in the Temple, or with the careless multitude that would not have the light in the popular haunts, or with those disciples who were glad when they saw the Lord in that upper room? Surely every Christian heart will answer, with the disciples in the upper room, where Christ was welcomed, loved, adored. It should be a joy to all who would answer thus to know that they do belong to that very company, and may even now be made glad by the presence of their Lord, for He has said, "Where two or three are gathered together unto My Name, there am I in the midst of them." But greater than their own joy should be the thought of His joy and the fact that in the world where He is still the rejected Christ, and when His rights are still refused, He may still find "His own" gathered together, gladly acknowledging His supremacy and yielding to Him His place as Lord.

Let us consider further the contrast between that company of disciples, who were the beginning of the Christian company, and the world as John's Gospel reveals it. We fear that it is very little understood and in consequence the Lord is robbed of His place and rights, and His own miss the joy and peace that a full and faithful yielding to Him gives. The Lord said to them concerning the world, "They have both seen and hated both Me and My Father" (15:24); but of them He said, "The Father Himself loveth you because ye have loved Me" (chap. 16:27). He told them that the world could not receive the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, but that He should be with them and dwell in them (chap. 14:17). He told them that if they had been of the world, the world would love them, but that they were not of the world, for He had chosen them OUT OF THE WORLD, therefore the world would hate them (chap. 15:19). They heard Him in prayer to His Father speak of them as "the men which Thou gavest Me OUT OF THE WORLD" (chap. 17:6), and "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (v. 16). It is this "out of the world" character of the Christian company that is so little appreciated and the result is a very feeble testimony to the world. Would to God that we understood the meaning of it better, and realized that we are in the world but not of it, to be kept from the evil that is in it, while we bear witness of Christ to it, and endeavour by the gospel to gather out of it souls for Him. It is a condemned world; the presence of the Holy Spirit demonstrates the fact that sin dominates it, for Christ has been cast out of it, and that the judgment of it is certain, that it must share the judgment of its prince, which is the devil (chap. 16:8-11).

The Christian "you" stands out in contrast to "the world" in its preciousness to Christ. He calls them "My sheep" (chap. 10:27), "My friends" (chap. 15:14), "My brethren" (chap. 20:17). And the wonderful epithets are for all who love Him; they may gather together in the joy of what they mean. They may lay the emphasis upon the possessive pronoun, that the Lord uses with such affection. They may go further and take up His words to His Father about them. "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me, for they are Thine. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them" (17:9-10). If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him, but these are loved by the Father and the Son, and they are indwelt by the Holy Ghost. The Christian assembly gathered together in the truth is where Father, Son and Holy Ghost delight to be, for it is where Christ, the beloved Son, is magnified and loved; it is the place of His joy. There are words full of typical meaning in Genesis 24, "And Isaac took Rebekah and she became his wife; and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." The Lord has found His comfort in His assembly. Unknown by the world, rejected by Israel, cast out and crucified, He, as the risen Isaac, has found a full compensation in His assembly. The prize is worth the price. But how much do we minister to His joy?

One further consideration. The company that welcomed the Lord on that resurrection day was a new company, indeed they were a new creation, for as God breathed into the nostrils of Adam in the beginning and he became a living soul, so did the Lord in His sovereign right breathe upon that company and impart it to His own life. And this new life, and His presence, and His undisputed will, and His everlasting, knowledge-surpassing love gave a character to that group of men, and invested them with a dignity that none had possessed since the beginning. This abides for us. It is maintained by Christ Himself, and by the Holy Ghost, and this is the truth to which the saints of God need to be recovered, and as they are recovered to it they will with one heart and one mouth glorify God, and take up the words of Thomas as they bow in the presence of the Lord, owning Him to be THEIR LORD AND THEIR GOD.