The Gospels and the Offerings

The key to the characteristic features of the Gospels is the position of the Lord Jesus.

There are four principal positions answering to the four Gospels, one to each.

Thus in Matthew, as "Son of David, Son of Abraham," He is seen in relation to the dispensations. We have His position with regard to David's throne and Abraham's true seed, — the heirs of promise.

In Mark, on the other hand, we find Him "in the form of a servant," come not to be ministered unto but to minister; and to do that, humbling Himself to the full depth of man's need, giving His life a ransom for many.

Then in Luke, "in fashion as a man," we find Him among men, meeting them in grace upon an equal footing with themselves, as Himself the Son of man.

While in John, as pre-eminently Son of God, we behold His glory, "a glory as of the only begotten of the Father" — in the Father's bosom and declaring Him — the life-giving Word of God, bringing those He quickens, in the full privilege of sons, into divine fellowship with the Father and with the Son.

All this we are more or less familiar with. It is less distinctly seen, — not less distinct, — that the aspect or the work of Christ varies as much, and in perfect accordance with each view of His Person. Such a thought is clearly enough suggested by the Levitical sacrifices. Out of the five offerings of Lev. 1:6, while one (the meat-offering) undoubtedly presents to us the character of the life of the Lord, the four others, clearly recognized in their distinctive application by the out-poured blood, present us with the varied perfectness of His atoning work. Here, therefore, we have at once a fourfold view. And it is sweet and wonderful to find, as soon as we begin to look at details, that these pages of the Old and New Testaments correspond exactly to each other as type and anti-type, — the offerings of Leviticus being but the picture of that which in the gospel narratives is a living reality.

The four offerings I allude to are the burnt-offering and the peace-offering, both offerings of sweet savor, and the sin- and trespass-offerings which were not. The former representing God's delight in the perfection of the sacrifice and in the result of it, where man partakes of the joy; while the latter bringing before us more distinctly the thought of the sin, in which God can have no delight, which required atonement, and the judgment of it which is His strange, though needed work.

Or, more particularly,

In the burnt-offering we see the perfectness of the sacrifice of Christ, His voluntary surrender of Himself to do the will of God, and God's perfect delight in, and acceptance of the sacrifice.

In the peace-offering, while God still has His joy in it, man is permitted to be a sharer of that joy, feeding in peace with God upon the offering.

In the sin-offering, however, the thought is totally different. In the victim burnt without the camp we behold the due of sin, putting afar from God and under judgment, while yet it is the blood of the sin-offering which sanctifies the holy places, and is put upon the mercy seat; so it is Christ made sin for us that is the foundation of everything, by which we are not simply forgiven, but even "made the righteousness of God in Him" and by which, as our representative, He has "entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption."

Lastly, in the trespass-offering, not only is atonement made for particular sins, but recompense also for wrongdoing. "He shall make amends for the wrong that he hath done is one of the most distinctive features. In it we see, therefore, Christ as making up, and more than making up, — "he shall add the fifth part to it," — for all the injury that sin has caused to God and man.

How beautifully all this is told out in the Gospels we shall see upon a very brief examination: the mind of the One Spirit brightly showing itself in the divine unity of Holy Scripture, from the first of inspired writers to the last.

The order in which we find the Gospels in our Bibles is most probably that in which they were written. Matthew is the evident link with the Old Testament, which it cites continually, and with which its subject and character correspond; while John is as evidently that which opens out the deepest and fullest glories of the Lord's person, as well as the highest character of His work. Mark, again, comes nearest to Matthew, plainly; while Luke, with all his differences, opens the way to John.

If our view of the application of the Scripture language of numerals be at all correct, we should expect Matthew to speak of divine sovereignty; Mark, of divine interference in grace for us; Luke, of our being brought to God. We shall not find these expectations disappoint us.

Matthew begins with the Lord's legal genealogy, which proves Him to be Son of David, heir to the throne in Israel. But He is also announced as Son of Abraham, through whom the blessing of all nations is to come, and here the introduction of four women's names, significantly all Gentiles, prove His title spiritually. But the throne of Israel is Jehovah's throne the coming kingdom, heaven's kingdom: the blessing for Jew or Gentile requires salvation to be wrought for both; and so immediately we are assured that He who is come is Immanuel" God with us," and Jesus, because He should save His people from their sins.

In this threefold character, then, Matthew presents Him, the last not developed as in John, but underlying the others. His first title is what is first insisted on. He is come to His own. When they do not receive Him, the kingdom passes in the meantime to the Gentiles, His Son-of-Abraham title is made good; always, however, with a prophecy of blessing and fulfillment of promise to Israel in the time to come. The first two chapters in this way give us the character of the book. Israel's King is hailed by Gentiles while rejected by His own. Jerusalem is alarmed, the Magi worship, the Lord takes in Egypt the place of rejection, yet there begins again for God the nation's history, the secret of that remarkable quotation of Hosea, "Out of Egypt have I called My Son." It is on this representation by Another all their blessing depends.

The King and kingdom are thus the characteristic thoughts in Matthew, its link, plainly, with the Old Testament. Two and thirty times its distinctive - phrase is found — "the kingdom of heaven." God is on the throne; and though made known as Father, nearness of intimacy there is not with Him. The work of salvation is intimated, but as to be accomplished. There is no present joy of it as yet. Discipleship, and its responsibility in walk and life, are emphasized; but the outflow of the heart of God does not awaken man's heart in response, as yet it will. Over all these is a certain restraint and reserve. Forgiveness of sins is governmental, and may be revoked (Matt. 18:34). The shadow of law has not yet given place. Only when we reach the cross we find the intimation of a blessing which the other gospels go on to develop. The aspect of the cross in Matthew we shall consider later.

Mark's gospel, which seems in some respects almost an abridgment of Matthew, is nevertheless, in the view of His person, in entire contrast. He is at the very outset declared to be the "Son of God," but this to give its character to the lowly service in which throughout He is found. The "kingdom of God" we have still, but now never "of Christ" or "of the Son of Man." Save as accusation on the cross, He is never even "King of the Jews." His title of "Lord" is very seldom taken. But He is the Son of God in service, with divine power and riches in His hand, serving in love, which requires nothing but power to entitle it to serve. There need be, and is, therefore, no genealogy. The earnestness of His service is marked by the frequency of the word "immediately." Half of all the occurrences throughout the New Testament of the Greek word which this translates are found in this gospel. The singleness of His service is seen in His knowing nothing of His Master's business save that which is given Him to communicate (Mark 12:32). The tenderness of it is found in all the smaller features of His ministry: how "He was moved with compassion;" how He was "grieved with the hardness of their hearts" how He touched one lifted up another; how "He marveled because of their unbelief." Here too, as in Luke, the ascension is given as the fitting close to His path of humiliation, — "the right hand of God;" even then His service being unceasing as His love, so that we read, "And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following."

But in Mark, as in Matthew, there is not yet the nearness to God we shall find in the next gospel. The Father is mentioned as such but five times, and "your Father," only in one place (Mark 11:25-26). Not the children's but the servant's place is here, although it is recognized that the servants are children. Governmental responsibilities and rewards are before us as in Matthew, but there, of disciples, each for himself subject; here, of laborers for the accomplishment of divine purposes: ministers, after the pattern of Him who, as "Son of Man, came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."

The shadow that lies upon both these gospels is revealed, as soon as we look at the cross, where in each the Lord's cry is found, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" The fourfold view of the cross which the Gospels present, it is now long since that I have endeavored to show to be that of the early chapters of Leviticus. There as we have seen, (omitting the meat-offering, which is not sacrificial,) we have just four sacrificial offerings. Two of these, the burnt and peace-offerings, are "for sweet savor:" the peace-offering, that which speaks of peace and communion with God; the burnt-offering, of the perfection of the work itself to God. Luke and John, I have no doubt at all, give us respectively the peace and the burnt-offerings: of this, by and by. But in the two others, — the sin and trespass-offerings, — the judgment of sin is the side dwelt upon, the necessary result of divine holiness, but not that which is sweet savor to Him. In the trespass-offering, sin as injury rather, — whether as regards God or man; in the sin-offering, sin as sin. The one has to be repaired; the other, expiated.

Which, then, does Matthew present? and which, Mark? I have been accustomed to take Matthew as the sin-, Mark as the trespass-offering; I am now convinced that this is wrong, however, and that it should be reversed. Matthew, I am now clear, represents the trespass- and Mark the sin-offering.

The difficulty lies mainly in this, that in the type the sin-offering alone is that which shows us the full judgment of sin in the outside place in which the victim is burnt upon the ground. But both gospels show our blessed Lord in this outside place: the cry of forsaken sorrow is as much in one as in the other. There is perhaps no such thing in Scripture as a mere repetition of the same thought; and this, while a perfection of the Word itself, is a difficulty in the interpretation of it. What has pressed upon me of late is this, that the trespass-offering (as I have elsewhere said,) is a question of divine government; the sin-offering, of the divine nature. Now Matthew we know to be the gospel which speaks of government. We see too in this why the trespass-offering can put on the aspect of the sin-offering; because the claim of divine government requires the display of the holiness of the divine nature.

In Matthew we find the double answer of God to the work of Christ. Having gone for us into the outside darkness, it is dispelled; the veil of the temple is rent in twain from the top to the bottom. The glory of God can shine out: the way in to God is opened for man.

But the Lord gives up His spirit also: the double portion of man is death and judgment. Judgment He takes first, and, having exhausted this, dies: the answer to this is seen in the resurrection of many of those who slept, who after His own resurrection go into the holy city and appear unto many. Now death is the stamp of divine government upon the fallen creature, as the cup of wrath is the necessary outflow of His holiness against sin. Matthew and Mark both give the rending of the veil, but Matthew alone the resurrection of the saints. This shows again that Matthew gives the governmental view of the cross, the trespass-offering.

There is another indication in the fact that in Mark the grace which is the result of the cross is not only fuller — "the gospel to every creature," preached with the signs of the enemy's work overcome, and the effects of man's judgment at Babel overruled, — but also it is grace unmixed. Compared in this way Psalm 22 with Psalm 69. So in Mark there is no prophetic Aceldama, no "His blood be upon us and on our children," no judgment even of the traitor. "Who is to be judged," as another has well asked, "for God's laying our sin on His beloved Son?" In the governmental gospel these things have their right and necessary place, and their omission would be as much a defect in Matthew as it is a perfection in Mark.

Again, even the threefold witness to the Lord, in the traitor who betrayed Him, the judge who gave Him up, and of Heaven in the dream of Pilate's wife, seems to me now more in accord with the governmental trespass- than with the sin-offering. Mark entirely omits them, and, by what it omits as well as what it brings forward, thus concentrates our attention on the one point of that forsaking of God which is the essential feature of the sin-offering.

In Luke we find the manhood of the Lord emphasized, as His deity is in John. Thus His genealogy is traced from Adam, not merely from Abraham. Not only His birth is dwelt on, but His childhood also and how He grows in wisdom and in stature. His prayers are noticed where in the other gospels they are omitted, as at His baptism and at His transfiguration. So, His being "full of the Holy Ghost." Seldom is He the Son of David here and Mary has the prominence in the early history which in Matthew belongs to Joseph.

Taking thus a place among men as Man, it is no wonder that angels tell, not simply of God's "good will toward," but rather of His "good pleasure in men," for so it should be read. And accordingly the peace-offering aspect of the work of Christ is what Luke's gospel gives.

We might apply to it, in comparison with the two former Gospels, those words of the Canticles, "The winter is past, the rain is over and gone the flowers appear in the earth the time of the singing of birds is come." Even so does Luke open with a burst of melody. Like Israel's chorus on the banks of the Red Sea, when the returning flood had swept away the last trace of those that had so lately threatened them, every heart is full of joy, and every mouth opened to sing of a great deliverance. Not only so, but heaven itself opens, to tell of, and to share its joy, and the burden of its song is like carols of that never-ending morning which it anticipates: —
"Behold, I bring 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 Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men.'"

This at once stamps the gospel before us with a peculiar character. In neither Matthew nor Mark do we read such language as this. In them we look at the awful due of sin, seeing it, it is true, where we see it in Divine grace put away forever, and learn His love who gave Himself for us there. But in Luke we see heaven opened, and walk in the light of it. God and man are at one again. There is an open house, and a glad reception, for the chief of sinners. What brings glory to God in the highest, gives peace to man.

And this is just the meaning of the peace-offering, where man feeds with God upon the same sacrifice, and is at rest in His presence. This is the one theme of this precious gospel, not the working out, but the bestowing of salvation. And this it is sets loose man's tongue in praise: Mary, Elizabeth, Zacharias, Simeon, are all full of what we hear of in the angel's message, — a Saviour and salvation.

Let us enter a little into the proof of this.

Not to speak more about what is so plain in the first chapters, if we look on to the opening of the Lord's ministry, in Nazareth, in the fourth, how strikingly is the character of the gospel presented in those words — only to be found in Luke — "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." This is the place the Lord takes throughout the book. He is ever doing this. Everywhere we see "God in Christ, reconciling men unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." And we see, too, men brought to God, and blessing Him, with adoring thankfulness, for "trespasses not imputed."

So the woman, at the close of the seventh chapter, who, taught of grace, is not afraid to seek Him out even in a Pharisee's house, loving much because much is forgiven her, though having the instinct of it, if I may so say, rather than the assurance; getting that now from the lips of Him who never disappoints the largest expectations faith can form of Him — "Thy sins be forgiven." "And He saith unto the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."

Again, in the parable of the tenth chapter, how sweet to recognize, in the person of the "good Samaritan," Him, who (not caring how men impute it to Him as a disgrace) ministers "righteousness of God without law;" applying in the power of the Divine Spirit, the knowledge of His own precious blood-shedding to the healing of those wounds from which the life-blood flows.

Or again in the fifteenth chapter, how "all the mind of heaven is one," in the bringing back of the lost sheep, the recovery of the lost piece of money, and the welcome back of a returned prodigal: all this to justify those "publicans and sinners" who drew near to hear Him, and to assure them of the joy that is in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

And we might add more, as in the Pharisee and publican of the eighteenth chapter, and the history of Zaccheus in the nineteenth but it will suffice to quote one other instance. The cross, as we might expect, preeminently has this peace-offering character. There is no "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" Instead of that the Lord says twice, "Father." Though the shadow may be upon the cross, He is in the light with God. And instead of self-occupation, such as was necessarily the case in draining the cup of wrath and judgment, He is able to intercede for others. "Father, forgive them," is His prayer for His murderers. And yet more wonderful even, a little after, heaven is opened to a poor sinner at His side, and a dying thief, who perhaps but a while ago had joined in deriding Him, is caught up to Paradise.

How significant is all this! What depth of meaning does it give to the angels' chorus in the opening chapters! while being, as it surely is, "Glory to God in the highest," how sweetly does it speak, "On earth peace, good pleasure in men."

A few statements, which it will be easy to verify with the aid of a concordance, may perhaps not be useless for the confirmation of this.

The word "peace" occurs but four times in Matthew. "If the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you again." And in the same chapter, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword." Once the word "peacemakers" occurs: "Blessed are the peacemakers."

In Mark the same word, "peace," is found but once. In Mark 5 the Lord says to the woman diseased with an issue of blood, "Go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."

The character of these passages will be seen at once. Now compare them with the following in the present gospel:
"To guide our feet into the way of peace."
"And on earth peace, good pleasure in men."
"Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
"Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
"Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest."
"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and said, Peace be unto you."

This needs no comment.

The verb "to save" is found in Matthew and Mark, but neither "Saviour" nor "salvation." For the Lord is in those gospels more looked at as One who is working out salvation, than as having wrought it out or bestowing it. In Luke, however, we have —
"My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." "Unto you is born this day a Saviour."
"He hath raised up a horn of salvation for us."
"To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins."
"For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation."
"And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."
"This day is salvation come to this house."

In all these instances salvation is looked at as a thing wrought out, making glad man's heart; God, a Saviour, bestowing it.

So the word "grace" is found several times here, but not at all in the two former gospels.
"All bare Him witness, and wondered at the words of grace that proceeded out of His mouth."

"Remission" (aphesis) is found once in Matthew, as what would be the result of the sacrifice of Christ; in Mark once, as connected with John's baptism, what it led to in God's grace; and once in the negative, "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never remission."

"Remit" (aphiemi) is used but once in Matthew of present forgiveness, as Matt. 9:2, to the paralytic — "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee;" and here it seems to be brought in mainly to display the character and dignity of Him who was among His people. In Mark it is precisely the same thing. But in Luke both these words are of comparatively common occurrence, in the sense of present remission.
"To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins."
"To preach deliverance (the same word) to the captives."
"To set at liberty (the same word) them that are bruised."

Both these things the Lord was there to do: "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears."
"And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached among all nations."

To the paralytic, as in the former gospels — "Thy sins be forgiven thee."

To the woman that was a sinner, the same thing. On the cross: "Father, forgive them."

And to this I add, what comes out very strikingly in the institution of the Lord's supper, and may have been noticed in examples already given, that in Luke the subjects of blessing are distinctly named, as it were, and the blessing given to them; in Matthew and Mark, more attached to a certain character.

Thus in Matthew we read: "This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many." But in Luke — "This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you."

How the joy of salvation is here brought home to the hearts of those He is addressing.

Again, compare the Sermon on the Mount with what answers to it in the present gospel.

"He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'" But in Luke — "And He lifted up His eyes upon His disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor; for yours is the kingdom of God."

And just answering to these loving assurances on the part of a Saviour God to the objects of His love and care, so do we find, as I have before noticed, the heart of the redeemed sinner going forth in love and adoration towards Him who has so blessed him.

In Matthew and Mark you find love to God or man only as a command, or as in the statement, "The love of many shall wax cold." In Mark, further, you do find, what is so blessedly in keeping with the whole gospel, the love of Jesus towards an object (though the fairest thing in mere nature) utterly unlovely: "Then Jesus, beholding him, loved him."

But in Luke we have the Lord's own testimony as to what had been awakened by grace in the heart of a poor sinner — it cannot be wondered at if I quote the whole passage: —
"And He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon,
"Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest Me no water for my feet; but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest Me no kiss; but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."

And as we find here the heart attracted to and delighting in the One who has redeemed it from death, so do we find the mouth opened in blessing and adoration. Let us look again at some passages which illustrate this.

The word "praise" (ainos) is found in Matthew once, in the quotation from the eighth Psalm: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise." The verb to praise" (aineo) is not found at all. In Mark we have neither. In Luke we have — "A multitude of the heavenly host praising God."
"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God."
"And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God."
"And the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice."
"And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God."

The word "glorify" is used four times by Matthew; twice only as a thing actually done: "they glorified God." Mark uses the word once. In Luke we have it nine times, — all of men actually glorifying God.

So the word "bless" is used in Matthew, once as a command: "bless those that curse you;" twice, "blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord;" twice where the Lord breaks bread and blesses, — once where the sheep are placed on the right hand of the King: "come ye blessed of my Father."

In Mark it is used five times, in a precisely similar way. In Luke it is used thirteen times. And, omitting occurrences similar to those just given, we find —
"And he spake and praised (blessed) God."
"Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God."
"And He lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them He was parted from them, and was carried up into heaven" — the last look we have upon the Saviour here, and revealing His attitude until He comes again.

Finally, as Elizabeth, Mary, and the rest, began the Gospel with songs of gladness, so do the disciples close it. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God."

In connection with Luke, I have only one point more to notice, and that has been glanced at. The fifteenth chapter opens the heart of God to us in a way which the former Gospels have nothing of. Yet, if we see here the prodigal brought home, and the grace of God revealed in doing it, and the son's place into which grace receives him, we do not go on to see what follows this. We do not actually enter the house, nor become familiar with the after-life, in the Father's presence. This is reserved for yet another revelation. Where Luke ends, John begins.

No one of the Gospels has its characteristic features more marked and decided than that of John. This will readily be admitted. Coming, in providentially perfect order, after the rest, it is based (so to speak) upon them. We have no repetition in it of what they have said, but taking what they have proved for granted, our apostle proceeds to the development of other and higher truths, for which they had prepared the way.

The former Gospels have all shown us, in connection with other things, man fully tried and tested by the presence of One who stood among them in the fulness of love and grace and of unspotted holiness. Christ in fulfilment of long desired promises, had come unto His own cherished and peculiar people. Jesus was in the world as the friend and servant of man's need, the perfect witness of Him whose compassions go forth into a scene of guilt and ruin and seek out the outcast and the sinner, with assurances of mercy and good-will. But what was the result? Alas, in whatever way the Lord is presented to us in these inspired narratives, they bear a common testimony to His rejection. However in other respects they differ, they all agree in bearing witness to the cross. "He was in the world and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own and His own received Him not." With the statement of this broad fact our Gospel begins.

We have therefore, no fresh trial of man here; — he had been abundantly proved already. Here, in the light come into the world, he is manifested indeed for what he is. The whole truth about him comes out. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," is the judgment of God upon all that naturally comes of him. If any receive Christ, it only shows that Divine power has been at work there. They have been "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Now we have nothing of regeneration in the other Gospels. Here we begin with it. On the other hand, here we find no repetition of the warnings already given; none of the gracious invitations so uniformly rejected. Even the Baptist utters not here his usual message. We have no "Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; — no "bring forth fruits worthy of repentance — no coming "in the way of righteousness" or requirement at all. All that is over. Righteousness dealing with men simply on the ground of natural responsibility could only be in judgment. Yet it is not judgment we get here, though evil indeed be judged, and man be set aside. No; it is rather God's own pure and precious grace: — God as the Quickener of the dead, that they may walk in the "light of life" with Him, maintained there by the precious blood upon the mercy-seat.

John has this ever before him: the rent veil opening a way into the holiest, — the light streaming out from thence, — Jesus, the light, not of Israel merely, but of the world, — and the blood covering the sin the light reveals. This is what indeed the first chapter gives: the "glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth;" the glory revealing (bringing out the truth); grace securing, so that, whatever is brought out, we can abide in His presence, — and then furthermore, the manifestation to us, as there, of the Father; as it is said, "the Only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him."

Thus in the Gospel of John, that which breaks out in other Gospels in gleams transitory, however glorious, here shines through the whole. As we might fitly call Luke's, the Gospel of peace, so we might as fitly call this, "the Gospel of the Glory." Yet, for that very reason, those occasional gleams are not in John. We have no Transfiguration-scene. The glory is not afar off on mountain-tops. It dwells with us. We are familiar with it. In Christ we have ever the Word made flesh — the Only-begotten in the Father's bosom, — the "Son of man, who is in heaven;" — yea, more; he that has seen Him, has seen the Father.

Even upon the cross, where least we expect to find it, the Divine glory does shine forth. There is no horror of a great darkness, hanging for three hours about it here. There is no cry of desertion. There is no agony. If Jesus says, "I thirst," it is "that the Scriptures might be fulfilled." And in perfect keeping with this, He is all through the doer of the Father's will, and the object of the Father's delight; just as in the burnt-offering, everything is for the eye and heart of God, and all goes up to Him a savor of a sweet smell. So here Jesus offers Himself in the calm and perfect consciousness of acceptance; "when He had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished, and He bowed His head, and rendered up His spirit."

How sweet this witness not merely to the strength of our salvation," but to the perfectness of our acceptance in the Beloved. And how suited also to that particular aspect of truth which we have here, viz.: communion in the light with God in the power of a new life given of Him. It is in One in whom the fire could only bring out the sweet savor of perfect devotedness, that we stand before God; — One in whom the Father can only find unchanging delight. This preciousness it is that attaching to us gives character to our communion and sustains it abidingly. Accepted in the Beloved we dwell in the Father's presence, and our fellowship is with the Father and the Son.

There is another witness to the perfectness of this work that is exceedingly precious. Out of the side of a dead Saviour the soldier's spear brings blood and water. It is God's answer of love to man's senseless enmity, — Divine provision for his need. It is the proof that all is indeed finished. The spirit, water, and blood bear witness to the same unspeakably blessed truth: God has given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

Yet one more character of the burnt-offering, found also in our present Gospel, remains to be noticed: — the perfect voluntariness of Christ's sacrifice.* We find this everywhere. So in the tenth chapter: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again. No one taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again."

{*The voluntary character of the burnt-offering is not to be argued from Leviticus 1:3. The words there should be rather, "He shall offer it for his acceptance." But in point of fact all the sweet savor offerings partook of this character. From the nature of the case, where sin is seen as requiring sacrifice, you cannot speak of freewill in offering it. I need not say, Christ was willing surely, He is burnt-offering and sin-offering both — "who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God."}

So again in the garden we see the perfect expression of the same free will, where He gives Himself up to those who had just fallen to the ground before Him. "The cup which my Father hath given Me," is His answer to the hasty zeal of a disciple, "shall I not drink it?"

I do not know that I have much more to suggest here. It will be plain, I think, that we are touching harmonies of sweet and holy significance. May they be full of power for our souls.

I scarcely need to repeat what is so manifest, that here in John only, we get the full revelation of the Father. The other Gospels are too much occupied with man and his trial, for this. But in John, at length, the full end of this is come. Jew and Gentile, seen in the light of God's own presence, are without distinction there. Both are alike dead in sins. Both need alike renewal. Therefore, for John, Judaism and Gentilism are one. Light is come into the world. The Sabbaths of the old creation, the law and all carnal ordinances are gone with Judaism. Man is out of the scene, and God can tell out therefore the secrets of His own heart.

Then it is "grace upon grace" only. Life for the dead, light for those in darkness, purification that we may walk in the light with God, are all found in Him. We are without a veil* in His presence, and it is perfect blessing.

{*There is no rending of the veil at the cross in John, because it is looked at as already rent all through the Gospel.}

Thus God manifests Himself commending His love to us — for God is love. And as it is the Son, the only-begotten Son who has declared Him, we are put also in the place of sons, that we may understand and enjoy this manifestation.

This is the Gospel of John, very meet to be his whom Jesus loved, and who speaks ever as it were from the breast of Him who is in the bosom of the Father: words of grace and love such as must needs bow our heads down to the dust, while we drink them in.

One more remark may suitably close this brief recital of differences which are manifest perfections of these inspired books. In Mark and Luke, the two gospels which give most distinctly the Lord's humiliation, His death is spoken of in terms like that of any other man: exepneuse, "He expired." In Matthew, where He is King, and heaven's own King, it is apeke to pneuma," He dismissed His spirit." Here, even in death, He is Lord of Himself, and none can take His life from Him. In John, again, He is the Son, and in relation to the Father and here the suited phrase is paredoke to pneuma," He delivered up His spirit" — handed it over to Another, as the word means.

I do not know of any version of the English Bible which gives these differences wholly right. But they are there, and each in perfect accord, as is plain, with the view given of our glorious Saviour in the different books. Deeper than our utmost realization of it is the perfection of God's blessed word.