CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 6 January Christ's Body Divinely Prepared By Charles Haddon Spurgeon Incarnation 0 Comment Christ's Body Divinely Prepared THAT is a very remarkable expression that Paul represents our Saviour as using in Hebrews 10:5: “When He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me.” The body of Christ was specially prepared for Him and for His great work. To begin with, it was a sinless body, without taint of original sin, else God could not have dwelt therein. It was a body made highly vital and sensitive, probably far beyond what ours are; for sin has a blunting and hardening effect even upon flesh; and Christ’s flesh, though He was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” was not sinful flesh, but flesh which yielded prompt obedience to His spirit. His body was capable of great endurance, so as to know the griefs and agonies and unspeakable sorrows of a delicate, holy, and tender kind which it was necessary for Him to bear. In the fulness of time, He came into that body, which was admirably adapted to enshrine the Godhead. He who assumed that body was existent before that body was prepared. He says, “A body hast Thou prepared Me. Lo, I come.” We could not, any one of us, have said that a body was prepared for us, and therefore we would come to it; for we had no existence before our bodies were fashioned. From everlasting to everlasting, our Lord Jesus is God, and He comes out of eternity into time, the Father bringing Him into the world, to fulfill the great purposes of His love and grace. He was before all worlds, and therefore He was before He came into this world to dwell for a while in His prepared body. Beloved, the human nature of Christ was taken on Him in order that He might be able to do for us that which God desired and required. God desired to see an obedient man, a man who would keep His law to the full; and He sees him in Christ. God desired to see one who would vindicate the eternal justice, and show that sin is no trifle; and behold our Lord, the eternal Son of God, entering into that prepared body, was ready to do all this mighty work, by rendering to the law a full recompense for our dishonor of it. He renders unto God an absolutely perfect righteousness; as the second Adam, the Lord from Heaven, He presents it to His Father for all whom He represents. He bows His head a victim beneath Jehovah’s sword, that the truth, and justice, and honor of God might suffer no detriment. His body was “prepared” to this end. Incarnation is a means to atonement. Only a man could vindicate the law, and therefore the Son of God became a man. This is a wonderful Being, this God in our nature. Surely, for the Incarnation and the Atonement, the world was made from the first. Was this the reason why the morning stars sang together when they saw the corner-stone of the world laid, because they had an inkling that, here, God would be manifest as nowhere else beside, and the Creator would be wedded to the creature? That God might be manifested in the Christ, it may even be that sin was permitted. Assuredly, there could have been no sacrifice on Calvary if there had not first of all been sin in Eden. The whole scheme, the whole of God’s decrees and acts, worked up to the consummation of an atoning Savior. Of the great pyramid of Creation and Providence, Christ is the apex. He is the flower of all that God hath made. His Divine nature, in strange union with humanity, constitutes a peerless Personage, such as never was before, and can never be again. God in our nature one Being, yet wearing two natures, is altogether unique. He saith, “A body hast Thou prepared Me. Lo, I come.” Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 119–121). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Christ's Body Divinely Prepared THAT is a very remarkable expression that Paul represents our Saviour as using in Hebrews 10:5: “When He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me.” The body of Christ was specially prepared for Him and for His great work. To begin with, it was a sinless body, without taint of original sin, else God could not have dwelt therein. It was a body made highly vital and sensitive, probably far beyond what ours are; for sin has a blunting and hardening effect even upon flesh; and Christ’s flesh, though He was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” was not sinful flesh, but flesh which yielded prompt obedience to His spirit. His body was capable of great endurance, so as to know the griefs and agonies and unspeakable sorrows of a delicate, holy, and tender kind which it was necessary for Him to bear. In the fulness of time, He came into that body, which was admirably adapted to enshrine the Godhead. He who assumed that body was existent before that body was prepared. He says, “A body hast Thou prepared Me. Lo, I come.” We could not, any one of us, have said that a body was prepared for us, and therefore we would come to it; for we had no existence before our bodies were fashioned. From everlasting to everlasting, our Lord Jesus is God, and He comes out of eternity into time, the Father bringing Him into the world, to fulfill the great purposes of His love and grace. He was before all worlds, and therefore He was before He came into this world to dwell for a while in His prepared body. Beloved, the human nature of Christ was taken on Him in order that He might be able to do for us that which God desired and required. God desired to see an obedient man, a man who would keep His law to the full; and He sees him in Christ. God desired to see one who would vindicate the eternal justice, and show that sin is no trifle; and behold our Lord, the eternal Son of God, entering into that prepared body, was ready to do all this mighty work, by rendering to the law a full recompense for our dishonor of it. He renders unto God an absolutely perfect righteousness; as the second Adam, the Lord from Heaven, He presents it to His Father for all whom He represents. He bows His head a victim beneath Jehovah’s sword, that the truth, and justice, and honor of God might suffer no detriment. His body was “prepared” to this end. Incarnation is a means to atonement. Only a man could vindicate the law, and therefore the Son of God became a man. This is a wonderful Being, this God in our nature. Surely, for the Incarnation and the Atonement, the world was made from the first. Was this the reason why the morning stars sang together when they saw the corner-stone of the world laid, because they had an inkling that, here, God would be manifest as nowhere else beside, and the Creator would be wedded to the creature? That God might be manifested in the Christ, it may even be that sin was permitted. Assuredly, there could have been no sacrifice on Calvary if there had not first of all been sin in Eden. The whole scheme, the whole of God’s decrees and acts, worked up to the consummation of an atoning Savior. Of the great pyramid of Creation and Providence, Christ is the apex. He is the flower of all that God hath made. His Divine nature, in strange union with humanity, constitutes a peerless Personage, such as never was before, and can never be again. God in our nature one Being, yet wearing two natures, is altogether unique. He saith, “A body hast Thou prepared Me. Lo, I come.” Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 119–121). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Related The Head and the Body The Head and the Body That we may grow up into Him in all things, Which is the head, even Christ; from Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15, 16. Great S. Mary’s Church, 22nd Sunday after Trinity, 1870. My text last Sunday appealed to the secret experience of the individual heart: my text to-day refers to the mutual relations and interdependencies of a vast and varied society. The theme then was necessarily concentrative; the theme now will be essentially diffusive. I introduced the text as taken from the Epistle to the Ephesians. At the very outset this statement needs amendment; for, if true, it is only partially true. We know now that the Epistle, which we are accustomed so to designate, was addressed to a much wider circle of readers. As S. Peter later writes to the strangers scattered throughout several districts in Asia Minor, as S. John later still addresses the Divine message to the principal Churches of the Roman province called Asia, so (there is good reason to think) the destination of S. Paul’s letter was not Ephesus only, the metropolis of the region, but all the Christian communities established in the several populous centres—perhaps throughout the province, perhaps extending over a still wider area. This result we may consider to be established by recent investigation and criticism. In the copies used by more than one of the ancient fathers, the words ‘in Ephesus’ were absent from the opening verse. They are wanting in the two oldest MSS which time has spared to us. Plainly these copies were derived from an archetype, in which a blank had been left for the name of the Church and had never been filled in. Another still more ancient writer called this the Epistle to the Laodiceans. Clearly he fell in with a copy addressed, not to Ephesus, but to Laodicea. And, if it be asked, how the common title prevailed, how the Church came to receive this as an Epistle to the Ephesians, the answer is simple. From Ephesus, the most populous city and the most important Church, the political and ecclesiastical metropolis of the region, the most numerous copies would be disseminated; and as some definite title was necessary, Ephesus, occupying this vantage ground, usurped the room and displaced the name of the other Churches in the heading of the Epistle. The Epistle was an encyclical, a catholic Epistle. This hypothesis, as it is demanded by external testimony, is necessary also to explain the internal character of the letter. Critics had observed that there was an entire absence of all personal and local allusions in it, and they had objected that in a communication written to a Church, with which the Apostle was on the closest and most affectionate terms, in which he had resided three whole years, labouring night and day, this silence was most strange and inexplicable. They were therefore disposed to question the Apostolic authorship. Certainly, if it had been addressed to the individual Church of Ephesus, I do not know how we could explain the absence of all marks of individuality, or what answer could be given to the objection founded thereupon. But criticism has solved the difficulties, which itself created. It has pulled down, only to build up on a broader and stronger basis. It has vindicated the Epistle to S. Paul, but it has denied the claims of Ephesus as the exclusive destination. Copies then of this circular letter were entrusted to the bearer, Tychicus, who (as you will remember) is charged in the letter itself to deliver orally the special messages, the special information, which S. Paul desired to communicate to each Church severally. Thus one copy would be left at Ephesus, another at Sardis, a third at Thyatira, a fourth at Laodicea, and so with the remaining Churches to which the several transcripts were addressed. Laodicea was the chief city of the district in which the smaller town of Colossæ was situated. The Epistle to the Colossians was despatched at the same time, and by the same messenger, as this circular letter. Hence the Colossians are charged to get and read the copy which was sent to the neighbouring Laodicea. If there was any obscurity in the terms of this brief message, Tychicus, the bearer of both letters, was at hand to clear it up. This is perhaps one of the most instructive results of Biblical criticism. But I should not have dwelt so long upon the subject merely for the sake of its critical interest. In all S. Paul’s Epistles the subject-matter is determined by the destination. This is especially the case with the letter before us. Its encyclical character explains its main theme—the Church as one, and yet manifold; one, as united in Christ; manifold, as comprising various members, various functions. The Churches, to which the letter was addressed, had their several capacities, their distinct interests, their special advantages and their special temptations. The respective messages addressed in the Apocalypse to the Seven Churches enable us to appreciate the different tempers and conditions of these several communities. Side by side were the Church of Smyrna which in spite of poverty was rich, and the Church of Laodicea which boasting of its wealth was miserably poor; side by side, the Church of Ephesus which had left its first love, and the Church of Thyatira whose last works were more than the first; side by side, the Church of Pergamos where prevailed the doctrine of Balaam, the excess of Gentile sensuality, and the Church of Philadelphia where was established the synagogue of Satan, the excess of Jewish formalism. Addressing these various communities, the Apostle cannot occupy himself with the refutation of individual errors, with the remedy of individual needs. Rather he seeks for some one grand comprehensive theme, which shall correspond to the comprehensive destination of the Epistle. This theme he finds in the idea of the Church as embracing all the Churches, the ideal community regarded as one harmonious whole, but comprising diverse branches, diverse offices, diverse members. Starting from the phenomenon of variety, he arrives at the idea of unity. He seeks the centre of union, the principle of cohesion, in Christ the Head. They all are one body, animated by one spirit; they all acknowledge one faith, into which they have been admitted by one baptism; they all are united in the one Lord, and through Him draw near to the one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in all. This then—the relation of the many to the One, of the Christians and the Churches to Christ and to one another through Christ—is the main theme of the Epistle. In one form or another it will be discerned running through paragraph after paragraph, inspiring alike the doctrinal statements and the practical injunctions; and it culminates in the words of the text. Under three images especially this relation is developed. 1. The Church is the Bride; Christ is the Bridegroom. Here a special aspect of this connexion is figured. The purity of love, the singleness of devotion, the perfection of obedience, the entire oneness of interests and aims—these are the features especially brought out. ‘They twain shall be one flesh.’ ‘This is a great mystery.’ ‘I speak concerning Christ and the Church.’ 2. The Church is a Temple; Christ the Chief Corner-Stone. This again, though a very expressive image, is yet partial. The compactness, the coherence, are prominent in it. The succession of layers, the stratification of the edifice, is also significant. And lastly, the object of the erection, the indwelling of the Spirit, finds its proper place. 3. But far more expressive and more full is the third and remaining image, the image of the text. Christ is the Head; the Church is the Body; each individual is a member, a limb, of the whole. This image supplies what was deficient in the last, the idea of mobility, vigorous life, diffused through the whole from one central, guiding, inspiring, vivifying power, the idea of an internal principle of growth, the idea of infinite variety of conditions, functions, needs, in the several parts, and combined with this the idea of the closest sympathy and interdependency, so that each is sensitive to the action of the other, and each necessary to the well-being of the whole. The language of the text is not free from exceptional difficulties. Of these, however, I need not speak. They do not affect the significance of the image, either as a whole or in its several parts; and therefore they may well be neglected. Setting aside these minor points as unimportant, we may paraphrase the passage thus. The Church of Christ is one colossal being, a single body animated by a single soul. It has not yet attained its maturity; its powers are still undeveloped; its growth still imperfect; it has hardly yet passed its infancy. But grow it will, and grow it must, for growth is the law of its being. And this growth can only be attained in one way. Connexion with the Head is the indispensable condition; obedience to the Head the inseparable accompaniment. As in the human body there is an almost infinite variety of parts—bones, muscles, veins, arteries, nerves; so likewise in the Church you have the same manifold combination of diverse elements—different individuals, different capacities, different communions, different nationalities. Each one of these supplies some distinct want, performs some distinct office, which is necessary to the well-being of the whole. We speak of a good constitution. If a man has a good constitution, we say, he will rally after this or that attack, he will survive this or that wound. What is implied by this? That the setting together of the different parts, which combine to form the body, is harmonious; that the machinery of the human frame, as a whole, works well, works without any jarring or any entanglement; that not only each part has its proper development, but that the relative adjustment of the parts is true; that they preserve their separate independence, and yet respect their mutual interdependence. In like manner the different branches, functions, capacities in the Church work separately, but work for and into each other. They are knit together in one compact whole. Nay, more than this. They cannot exist separately. It is this very connexion that preserves their vitality. It is by adaptation and contact with the neighbouring parts, and through these with the whole body, that each receives that degree and that kind of nutriment which is necessary to sustain it. But the centre of this cohesion, this correlation, this cooperation, is the Head. Here resides the power which controls, commands, animates, harmonizes the whole. Through orders transmitted from this central government, each part receives its directions, and in obedience thereto fulfils its work. Each acts singly; each performs its own task. The eye sees, and the feet walk, and the hands handle; and, so far as regards the particular action of each, there is no direct connexion between them. It is just because there is a centre of union, to which each severally refers, that the functions of all are directed to some one definite end, and that an adequate result is achieved. Thus composed, thus united, thus controlled, the body grows—grows towards its ideal limit, the full moral stature, the perfect standard, of which the Person and the Life of Christ are the measure; while, throughout, the pervading element in which it moves, which it breathes, from which it derives sustentation and strength, is love. This image of the Head and the Body must have had a speaking significance to the Apostle’s contemporaries. To ourselves it presents itself with even greater vividness and force, in the light of later discoveries. The two main points in this relation are summed up in the two prepositions used to describe it in the text—‘into Him’ and ‘from Him.’ There is a concentrative energy tending towards the Head; and there is a diffusive energy spreading from the Head. The head, the brain, is the initiative centre of our actions; and it is also the receptive centre of our sensations. From it all the various motions of the body are originated; and to it the manifold impressions of the senses are communicated. By two sets of nerves, as by two sets of telegraphic wires, this twofold communication with the head, as the central office, the seat of government in the human frame, is maintained. By the one set, the brain, the thinking, planning, originating power, transmits its orders to the furthest member; the order is received; the muscle contracts; the joint is moved; and the hand holds, or the foot walks. By the other set, the reverse process is carried on; the grasp which presses the hand, the rays which strike the eye, the pulsations which beat on the ear, all these are transmitted to the centre, and the corresponding sensation is thereby and there produced. Such also is the relation of Christ to the Church. His control guiding the various members, and His sympathy feeling with the various members—these are the functions which this image brings clearly out. 1. There is the controlling power. The direction, the influence, the illuminating, guiding energy of the Eternal Word of God, is infinitely varied and extends throughout mankind. Of this however I do not intend to speak, though in these Epistles of S. Paul it assumes a prominent place. But it is rather the more definite, concentrated form of this control, which the same Word exerts, as the Incarnate Christ, not as the Head only of Universal Nature, but as the Head of the Church specially, that we are led by the text to consider. His teaching, His example, His Incarnation and Passion are the manifestation of the Father’s love, His Resurrection is the manifestation of the Father’s power—these are the outward agency; the Spirit, Which the Father sendeth in His name—this is the invisible medium, through which He controls and enlightens and directs His Church. Thus He communicates the Almighty Will to us. Not veiling but revealing the Father, not interposing between man and God, but reflecting God to man, He acts upon the Church. And it is just according as we, the individual members of His Body, preserve our communication with Him; according as (in the language of the parallel passage in the Epistle to the Colossians) we ‘hold fast the Head,’ that is, according as our life is conformed to His life, our spirit interpenetrated with His Spirit, our being incorporated in His Being, that His orders are duly received, prompt, healthy, vigorous action ensues, and the will of the Father is done. The joint may be dislocated by worldly indulgence and distraction; or the limb may be paralysed by spiritual carelessness. If so, there will be no response, or no adequate response, to the message transmitted. But if the communication is intact, then, by a necessary spiritual law, action must follow, obedience must be complete. 2. But, secondly, the sympathetic office of Christ is suggested by the image. As the natural body, so also the spiritual body has its system of nerves, which communicate the sensations of its lowest, most distant, members to the Head. This entire sympathy of Christ is no after-thought of the Apostle’s, no idle fancy of an overwrought imagination, or outgrowth of unrestrained metaphor. The ‘crucifying of the Son of God afresh’ has its parallel in Christ’s own declarations. No language of S. Paul or of the Epistle to the Hebrews can express this truth more strongly than His own words—recorded (be it observed) not in this instance by S. John, but by the other Evangelists—‘Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it unto Me.’ ‘Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these, ye did it not unto Me.’ With the humblest member of His body He suffers: with the humblest member also He rejoices. The image of the human body, as representing a society with its many members and various functions, was not new. The newness consisted in the significance of the Head. This was necessarily so; for the revelation of the Person, Who was the Head, was new. In the familiar apologue, addressed to the Roman crowd, the ‘kingly-crowned head,’ though it may be mentioned, means nothing, adds nothing, to the moral of the story. And if the popular application was defective, the philosophic was equally so. For the Stoic too spoke of society, of the world, of the universe, as one vast body of which individual parts and individual men were members. He went so far as to imagine it animated by one soul. But the image was vague, inarticulate, fruitless. It made no appeal to the experience, none to the heart, none to the consciences of men. He said nothing, could say nothing, of the Head. The body was to him a huge, headless, shapeless trunk, living a sort of unconscious, vegetable life, hanging together by a loose, uncertain, inappreciable bond. This defect, which attended the popular and the philosophical application alike, was first supplied by the teaching of the Apostles, as it first became possible by the revelation of the Gospel. The Son of Man, the Pattern and Ideal of humanity, the Chief of His race, the Son of God, the Image of the Father, the Incarnation of the Divine Word—He Who centred in Himself both natures, He and He only could claim this place. From Him all the members must draw their inspiration, their strength; to Him all the members must direct their actions, must render their account. To hold fast to Him, to grow into Him, this has been the secret of the highest life. Above all the jarring conflicts of creeds, amid all the distracting forms of Church polity, this presence, this consciousness, this intimate relation, has been the one constant, guiding, inspiring, strengthening, renovating energy. And, in and by His name, lives of unsullied saintliness have been lived, and works of transcendent heroism wrought, by men in different ages, of different Churches, in different lands; because through Him they all alike have grown into a more perfect knowledge of the truth and the perfections of the Eternal Father. But the image in the text speaks especially of the diversity resulting in unity. It tells of a harmony which comes from the due performance by each several member of its special function, the energetic working of every part in its proper measure or relation—for so it would seem we should translate the words κατʼ ἐνέργειαν ἐν μέτρῳ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου μέρους. There is an ideal of the Church, which confuses unity with uniformity, which would force every section and every individual into the same mould, which would exact of every age the same work, and is disappointed in not finding what it exacts. This is not the Apostle’s conception. Uniformity would be fatal to the higher harmony which he requires. The unvaried repetition of the same function would be comparatively barren. The richness and the fulness of the result depend on the countless variety of the energies thus working together. ‘All the members have not the same office.’ ‘If they were all one member, where were the body?’ The examples, which the Apostle selects, are necessarily limited to the experience of the infant Church; but the principle is of the widest application. To us, who can look back on a history of eighteen centuries, the image will speak with much fuller significance than to S. Paul’s immediate hearers. We may observe, how each great subdivision of the human race in turn has contributed its special work to the building of the Church; how the intellectual subtlety of the Greek was instrumental in drawing up her creeds and elucidating her doctrines; how the instinct of organization and the respect for order in the Latin moulded and strengthened her political and social life; how the self-devoting enthusiasm of the Celt gave the immediate impulse to her greatest missionary labours; how the truthfulness and stedfastness of the Teuton reformed her corruptions and brought her into harmony with the intellectual and the social acquisitions of a more enlightened age. We might turn from Churches to individuals; and we might point out, how an Origen, an Athanasius, a Benedict of Nursia, a Francis of Assisi, a Luther, each in his generation by his special gift, his special energy, introduced a distinct element, did a distinct work in the Church. Nay, we might even appeal to sects, and shew that however one-sided, however erroneous, each nevertheless has contributed something, has brought into prominence some neglected or half-forgotten aspect of truth. In this and diverse ways we might illustrate the Apostle’s image of ‘the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth.’ But the task would be long. And the time which remains will be better employed in directing the lesson of the image to ourselves. We here are all members of one body, of a whole compacted of various parts, are members of an University. An University may be regarded as a Church within a Church, a Church viewed especially from its intellectual side. The name, and the thing alike, imply the same idea as the image of the text—multiplicity and unity—not manifoldness only, but manifoldness resulting in harmony and in oneness. (1) This is an University of sciences. Such is the original idea of the term. It aims, or it should aim, at teaching every branch of knowledge. Each of us selects, or should select, his own study or studies, as the object of all the energies and powers of his mind. If I venture to urge the lesson of the text in connexion herewith, it is because I feel that these our studies will be pursued most truthfully and most profitably in the spirit there recommended, and that the consecration of the intellect to God thus attained is the highest achievement of man. And by pursuing our studies in the spirit of this image I mean two things; first, that each individually should follow his own pursuit with all his might; and secondly, that there should be no jealousy, no impatience, no contempt, of the studies of others. I do not think either caution unneeded at the present time. As the sphere of human knowledge enlarges, it becomes more and more necessary, that each should make choice of his pursuit and concentrate himself on this. He should make his choice, and he should believe in his work. No branch of study is contemptible, none is fruitless. Each has its place, each conduces to the well-being of the whole. ‘Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.’ Not to make a brilliant display, not to satisfy an appetite for diffusive reading, not to dissipate our intellectual energies, but to achieve something, to add something—however little—to the store of human knowledge—this should be the aim of all. But this caution is not complete without the other. It is not only necessary that we should believe in our own work, but also that we should leave room for the work of others. This conflict between the old studies and the new, between theologians and men of science, between the investigation of the faculties of mind and the investigation of the phenomena of nature, should have no place with us. There is need of all; there is room for all; there must be no jealousy or depreciation of any, for none can be spared. Reason tells us, as S. Paul tells us, that ‘if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.’ Reason shews us, as S. Paul shews us, a more excellent way, a comprehensive charity in the intellectual as in the social community, which ‘beareth all things, believeth all things.’ Thus bearing and thus believing, content ‘to labour and to wait,’ we shall look forward in faith to the time when the unity to which science, not less than religion, points, shall be attained, when the manifold cords of human knowledge shall be knotted in one, and attached to the throne of Heaven. (2) But this is not only an University of studies; it is also an University of men. We bring to this place our different trainings, different experiences, different capacities. We each contribute something, and we receive much in turn. Here, if anywhere, the lesson of the text is exhibited in daily life, written in large characters that he may run that reads. This our body is large enough to afford the requisite variety, and small enough to be sensitive throughout to the healthy or unhealthy working of each individual part. A good example is more immediately felt here than elsewhere; a bad example spreads with fatal rapidity. Here, if anywhere, the moral interdependence of the members is close and sympathetic. Here no man can evade responsibility, no man can live to himself. If he is not a centre of light and health, he must become a centre of darkness and disease. He may count many a habit innocent, because he does not trace any immediate evil consequences to his own character. Could he hold it so, if he saw its effect on others? A lavish personal expenditure, for instance, seems to him very allowable, if it does not exceed his means; but extravagance in one calls forth extravagance in others, and the disease thus feeds itself, and his expensive tastes beget a fashion of expenditure which may prove the ruin of many a poorer man, both body and soul. Or he is reckless in his language, talks lightly of moral obligations, talks scoffingly of religious truths or religious men. To himself this does not mean much; it is a random shaft shot idly into the air; but it has lodged in another’s breast, has poisoned his thoughts, has mortally wounded his moral nature. ‘I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.’ It is enough, more than enough, to answer for our own ill deeds. It will be an intolerable, crushing load, if we have to bear also the burden of another’s sins. The curse of one thus misled, thus degraded, thus lost by our carelessness, might well ‘drag to hell a spirit from on high.’ Remember this now. Resolve thus much at least, that through your influence, your example, no member of the body shall suffer. And to render this your resolution effectual, you will not forget that one safe way, and one only, is open; that, if you would do your duty to the members, you—each one of you individually,—must preserve healthy, vigorous, intimate connexion with the Divine Head. So only will you do your several parts. So only will harmonious action ensue. So only will the whole body grow ever more and more to the edifying of itself in love. Lightfoot, J. B. (1890). Cambridge Sermons. London; New York: MacMillan and Co. (Public Domain) Romans 1:15 - Prepared Romans 1:15 "So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome." (NASB) "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also." (KJV) "So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News." (NLT) "I am ready ... - I am prepared to preach among you, and to show the power of the gospel, even in the splendid metropolis of the world. He was not deterred by any fear; nor was he indifferent to their welfare; but he was under the direction of God. And as far as he gave him opportunity, he was ready to make known to them the gospel, as he had done at Antioch, Ephesus, Athens, and Corinth." Dr. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" (Ephesians 6:15 KJV) Preparation PREPARA'TION, n. [L. proeparatio. See Prepare.] The act or operation of preparing or fitting for a particular purpose, use, service or condition; as the preparation of land for a crop of wheat; the preparation of troops for a campaign; the preparation of a nation for war; the preparation of men for future happiness. Preparation is intended to prevent evil or secure good. Previous measures of adaptation. Ceremonious introduction. [Unusual.] That which is prepared, made or compounded for a particular purpose. The state of being prepared or in readiness; as a nation in good preparation for attack or defense. (Noah Webster) Ready READY, a. red'y. [Eng. to rid; redo, ready; rida, to ride; bereda, to prepare. Gr. easy. The primary sense is to go, move, or advance forward, and it seems to be clear that ready, ride, read, riddle, are all of one family, and probably from the root of L. gradior. See Read and Red.] Quick; prompt; not hesitating; as ready wit; a ready consent. Quick to receive or comprehend; not slow or dull; as a ready apprehension. Quick in action or execution; dexterous; as an artist ready in his business; a ready writer. Psa 45. Prompt; not delayed present in hand. He makes ready payment; he pays ready money for every thing he buys. Prepared; fitted; furnished with what is necessary, or disposed in a manner suited to the purpose; as a ship ready for sea. My oxen and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Mat 22. Willing; free; cheerful to do or suffer; not backward or reluctant; as a prince always ready to grant the reasonable requests of his subjects. The spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14. I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 21. Willing; disposed. Men are generally ready to impute blame to others. They are more ready to give than to take reproof. Being at the point; near; not distant; about to do or suffer. A Syrian ready to perish was my father. Deu 26. Job 29. Psa 88. Being nearest or at hand. A sapling pine he wrench'd from out the ground, the readiest weapon that his fury found. Easy; facile; opportune; short; near, or most convenient; the Greek sense. Sometimes the readiest way which a wise man has to conquer, is to flee. Through the wild desert, not the readiest way. The ready way to be thought mad, is to contend you are not so. Readiness and Preparation are no small things. Yet it is seldom that I deeply ponder my readiness to serve in the Gospel each day in the manner exhorted in the Armor of God. If I were preparing to head into the war zone of Iraq, I am sure that my mind would be full of the many things that need to be done to ensure a state of readiness that exceeds the level of threat. Yet the threat I face today is unseen. What is my part in the preparation and readiness to meet the challenges of this day. To rise early and prepare to secure good and prevent evil. Dear Heavenly Father it seems that the challenges of the day far exceed my abilities for preparedness. I cannot see the invisible threats and circumstances that may come my way nor the eternal appointments and opportunities. Let my heart rest in you. Christ's Fullness Received by His People Christ's Fullness Received by His People NOT only does John say that our Lord Jesus Christ is “full of grace and truth,” but he adds, “and of His fullness have all we received.” It is not one saint alone who has derived grace from the Redeemer, but all have done so; and they have not merely derived a part of the blessings of grace from Jesus, but all that they ever had they received from Him. It would be a wonderful vision if we could now behold passing before us the long procession of the chosen, the great and the small, the goodly fellowship of the apostles, the noble army of martyrs, the once weeping but now rejoicing band of penitents. There they go! Methinks I see them all in their white robes, bearing their palms of victory. But you shall not, if you stay the procession at any point, be able to discover one who will claim to have obtained grace from another source than Christ; nor shall one of them say, “I owed the first grace I gained to Christ, but I gained other grace elsewhere.” No, the unanimous testimony of the glorified is, “Of His fullness have all we received.” My inner eye beholds the countless throng as the wondrous procession passes, and I note how every one of the saints prostrates himself before the throne of the Lamb, and all together they cry, “ ‘Of His fullness have all we received.’ Whoever we may be, however faithfully we have served our Master, whatever of honor we have gained, all the glory is due unto our Lord, who has enabled us to finish our course, and to win the prize. ‘Non nobis, Domine!’ is our cry; ‘not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name be all the praise!’ ” What a precious truth, then, we have before us, that all the saints in all ages have been just what we must be if we would be saved; that is, receivers! They did not any of them bring anything of merit to Christ, but they received everything from Him. If they, at this moment, cast their crowns at His feet, those crowns were first given to them by Him. Their white robes are wedding garments of His providing. The whole course of saintship is receptive. None of the saints above talk of what they gave to Jesus, none of them speak of what came of themselves; but, without a solitary exception, they all bear testimony that they were receivers from Jesus’ fullness. This truth casts mire into the face of human self-sufficiency. What! is there not one saint who had a little grace of his own? Is there not one of all the favored throng who could supply himself with what he needed? No, not one. Did none of them look to the works of the law? No, they all went to Jesus and His grace, not to Moses and the law. Did none of them trust in priests of earthly anointing? Did none of them bow down before holy fathers and saintly confessors to obtain absolution? There is not a word said about any such gentry, nor even a syllable concerning appeals to saints and saintesses; but all the saved ones declare that they received grace and salvation direct from His fullness, who filleth all in all. These receptive saints received very abundantly from Christ’s fullness. They drew from an abundance, and they drew largely from it, as the words seem to indicate. It is worth while to notice the marvelous simplicity of the one act by which salvation comes to all saints. It is merely by receiving. Now, receiving is a very easy thing. There are fifty things which you cannot do; but, my dear friend, you could undoubtedly receive a guinea, could you not, if it were offered to you? There is not a rational man, or woman, or child, so imperfect in power as to be unable to receive. Everybody seems capable of receiving to any amount; and, in salvation, you have to do nothing but merely receive what Christ gives. There is a beggar’s hand, and if it be wanted to write a fair letter, it cannot do that, but it can receive alms. Try it, and the beggar will soon let you know that it can do so. Look at that next hand; see you not that it has the palsy? Behold how it quivers and shakes! Ah! but for all that, it can receive. Many a palsied hand has received a jewel. But the hand that I now see, in addition to being black, and palsied, is afflicted with a foul disease; the leprosy lies within it, and is not to be washed out by any mode of purification known to us; yet even that hand can receive; and the saints all came to be saints, and have remained saints, through doing exactly what that poor black, quivering, leprous hand can do. There was not in John any good thing but what he had received from his Master; there was not in the noble proto-martyr, Stephen, one grain of courage but what he had received from Christ; Paul, Apollos, Cephas,—all these had nothing but what they took from Him. If, then, they received everything from Christ, why should we hesitate to do the same? All their grace came by receiving; so, dear reader, I put to you the question,—Have you received of the fullness of Christ? Have you come to Him all empty-handed, and taken Him to be your All-in-all? I know what you did at first; you were busy accumulating the shining heaps of your own merits, and esteeming them as if they were so much gold; but you found out that your labor profited not, so at last you came to Christ empty-handed, and said to Him, “My precious Savior, do but give me Thyself, and I will abandon all thought of my own merit. I renounce all my giving, and doing, and working, and I take Thee to be everything to me.” Then, friend, you are saved if that be true, for acceptance of Christ is the hall-mark of saints. The fullness of God’s grace is placed where you can receive it, where you can receive it now, for it is placed in Him who is your Brother, bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh; it dwells in Him who loves to give it, because, as our Head, He delights to communicate grace to all the members of His mystical body. The plenitude of grace dwells in Him who is Himself yours; and since He is yours, all that is in Him is yours. You need not pray as if you had no inheritance in the blessing which you seek. Christ is the Trustee of the fullness of God, and the ownership of it is vested in His people; you have only to ask of Him, and He will give you that which is your own already. Why do you hesitate? How can you linger? The Father has placed His grace in Christ because it gratifies His love to His Son. It pleases the heart of the great God to see Jesus adorned with the fullness of Deity, and every time Jesus gives out grace to believers, the heart of God is thereby gladdened. How can you hesitate about receiving it if it pleases God for you to partake of it? You may go with high expectation of comfort, since Jesus Himself is honored by your going to Him. He obtains glory by distributing of His fullness to empty sinners, who, when they receive grace, are sure to love Him; then, how can you think Him reluctant to bestow the gift which will increase His glory? Thinking upon this subject brings to my mind right joyful memories of the hour when first these eyes looked to Christ, and were lightened; when I received pardon from His dying love, and knew myself forgiven. Have not many of my readers similar recollections? And since your conversion, is it not true that everything good you have ever had you have received from your Lord? What have you drunk out of your own cistern? What treasure have you found in your own fields? Nakedness, poverty, misery, death,—these are the only possessions of nature; but life, riches, fullness, joy,—these are gifts of grace through Jesus Christ. Are you accepted before God? Then, He has justified you. Have you been kept? Then, He has preserved you. Are you sanctified? Then, He has cleansed you by His blood. Do you know, by full assurance, your interest in the Father’s love? Then, He gave you that assurance. All you have, and all you ever will have, all that every saint who ever will be born shall have, that is worth the having,—all has been received, and will be received from Christ’s fullness. Do you not know, too, that when you receive from Christ, you gain by that very act? I am so thankful that Christ has not put the fullness of grace in myself, for then I should not require to go to Him so often; or if I did go to Him, I should not have an errand to go upon of such importance as to justify me in seeking an audience; but now, every time I go to Christ’s door, I can plead necessity. We go to Him because we must go. When is there an hour when a believer does not need to receive from Jesus? Go, then, beloved, to Him often, since your going honours Christ, pleases God, and is the means of soul-enrichment for yourselves. Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 131–136). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Christ's Two Appearings Christ's Two Appearings THE two great links between earth and Heaven are the two advents of our Lord; or, rather, He is Himself, by His two appearings, the great bond of union between earth and Heaven. When the world had revolted against its Maker, and the Creator had been defied by His own creatures, a great gulf was opened between God and man. The first coming of Christ was like a bridge which crossed the chasm, and made a way of access from God to man, and then from man to God. Our Lord’s second advent will make that bridge far broader, until Heaven shall come down to earth; and, ultimately, earth shall go up to Heaven. Here, too, is the place for us to build a grand suspension bridge, by which, through faith, we ourselves may cross from this side to the other of the stormy river of time. The cross, at whose foot we stand, is the massive column which supports the structure on this side; and as we look forward to the glory, the second advent of our Lord is the solid support on the other side of the deep gulf of time. By faith, we first look to Jesus, and then look for Jesus; and herein is the life of our spirits. Christ on the cross of shame, and Christ on the throne of glory: these are our Dan and Beersheba, and all between is holy ground. As for our Lord’s first coming, there lies our rest; the once-offered sacrifice hath put away our sin, and made our peace with God. As for His second coming, there lies our hope, our joy; for “we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” The glories of His royal priesthood shall be repeated in all the saints; for He hath “made us unto our God kings and priests:” and we shall reign with Him for ever and ever. At His first advent, we adore Him with gratitude, rejoicing that He is “God with us,” making Himself to be our near Kinsman. We gather with grateful boldness around the Infant in the manger, and behold our God. But, in the anticipation of His second advent, we are struck with a solemn reverence, a trembling awe. We are not less grateful, but we are more prostrate, as we bow before the majesty of the triumphant Christ. Jesus in His glory is an overpowering vision for mortal man to behold. John, the beloved disciple, writes, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.” We could have kissed His blessed feet till He quitted us on Mount Olivet; but, at the sight of our returning Lord, when Heaven and earth shall flee away, we shall bow in lowliest adoration. His first appearing has given us eternal life, and that holy confidence with which we are looking forward to His glorious appearing, which is to be the crown of all His mediatorial work. There are many contrasts between our Lord’s first and second appearings, but the great contrast is, that, when He comes again, it will be “without a sin-offering unto salvation.” The end and object of His first coming was “to put away sin.” The modern babblers say that He appeared to reveal to us the goodness and love of God. This is true; but it is only the fringe of the whole truth. The all-important fact is, that He revealed God’s love in the provision of the only sacrifice which could put away sin. Then, they say that He appeared to exhibit perfect manhood, and to let us see what our nature ought to be. Here also is a truth; but it is only part of the sacred design of Christ’s coming to earth. He appeared, say they, to manifest self-sacrifice, and to set us an example of love to others; by His self-denial, He trampled on the selfish passions of man. We deny none of these things; and yet we are indignant at the way in which the less is made to hide the greater. To put the secondary ends of our Lord’s first advent into the place of the grand object of His coming, is to turn the truth of God into a lie. It is easy to distort truth, by exaggerating one portion of it, and diminishing another; just as the drawing of the most beautiful face may soon be made a caricature rather than a portrait by neglect of the rule of proportion. You must observe proportion if you would take a truthful view of things; and in reference to the first appearing of our Lord, His chief purpose was “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” The great object of our Lord’s coming here was not to live, but to die. He appeared, not so much to subdue sin by His teaching, or to manifest goodness, or to perfect an example for us to imitate, but “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” That which the modern teachers of error would thrust into the background, our Lord placed in the forefront. He came to take away our sins, even as the scapegoat typically carried away the sin of Israel into the wilderness, that the people might be clean before the living God. Do not let us think of Jesus without remembering the design of His coming. I pray you, know not Christ without His cross, as some pretend to know Him. We preach Christ; so do a great many more: but, “we preach Christ crucified;” so, alas! do not so many more. We preach, concerning our Lord, His cross, His blood, His death; and upon the blood of His cross we lay great stress, extolling much “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” by putting away their sin “by the sacrifice of Himself.” We will not deny, or conceal, or depreciate His master-purpose, lest we be found guilty of trampling upon His blood, and treating it as an unholy thing. The putting away of sin was a Godlike purpose; and it is a wellspring of hope to us that, for this reason, Jesus appeared among men. If any of you are entertaining some so-called “larger hope”, I would say to you,—Hope what you please; but remember, that hope without truth at the bottom of it, is an anchor without a holdfast. A groundless hope is a mere delusion. Wish what you will; but wishes without promises from God to back them, are vain imaginings. Why should you imagine or wish for another method of salvation? Rest you assured that the Lord thinks so highly of His Son’s one sacrifice for sin that, for you to desire another, is a gross evil in His sight. If you reject the one sacrifice of the Son of God, there remains no hope for you; nor ought there to be. Our Lord’s plan of putting away sin is so just to God, so honoring to the law, and so safe for you that, if you reject it, your blood must be upon your own head. By once offering up Himself to God, our Lord has done what myriads of years of repentance and suffering could never have done for us. Blessed be the Name of the Lord, the sin of the world, which kept God from dealing with men at all, was put away by our Lord’s death! John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” God has been able to deal with the world of sinners in a way of grace, because Jesus died. I thank our Lord, even more, because the actual sins of His own chosen—all those who believe on Him in every age—have been put away. These sins were laid on Jesus; and in Him God visited man for them. “He His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,” and so put them away for ever. The putting away of my guilt as a believer was really, effectually, and eternally accomplished by the death of my great Substitute upon the bloody tree. This is the ground of our everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. Jesus did it, and did it alone, and did it completely; He did not only seem to do it, but He actually achieved the putting away of sin. He blotted out the handwriting that was against us. He finished transgression, and made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness, when once for all He died upon the cross. I do not need, I hope, to linger here to warn you that it is of no use to expect that God will put away sin in any other way than that which, at so great a cost, He has provided. If sin could have been removed in any other way than by the death of His dear Son, Jesus would not have died. If there had been, within the range of supposition, any method of pardon except by the sacrifice of Himself, depend upon it Jesus would never have bowed His head to death. The great Father would never have inflicted the penalty of death upon the perfect One if it had been possible that the cup should pass from Him. He could never have imposed upon His well-beloved Son a superfluous pain. His death was needful; but, blessed be God, having been endured, it has once for all put away sin, and hence it will never be endured again. Yet Christ Jesus will appear a second time; but not a second time for the same purpose as when He came before. He will appear. The appearing will be of the most open character. He will not be visible simply in some quiet place where two or three are met together, in His Name, but He will appear as the lightning is seen in the heavens. At His first appearing, He was truly seen; wherever He went He could be looked at, and gazed upon, and touched, and handled. He will appear quite as plainly, by-and-by, among the sons of men. The observation of Him then will be far more general than at His first advent; for, as John says, “every eye shall see Him.” Every eye did not see Him when He came the first time; but when He comes the second time, all the nations of the world shall behold Him. They that are dead shall rise to see Him, both saints and sinners; and they that are alive and remain when He shall come shall be absorbed in this greatest of spectacles. Then Balaam shall find it true, “I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh.” Though the ungodly shall cry, “Hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne,” they shall cry in vain; for before His judgment-seat they must all appear. His second appearing will be without sin. That is to say, He will bring no sin-offering with Him, for, having presented Himself as the one sacrifice for sin, there is no need of any other offering. When our Lord comes in His glory, there will remain no sin upon His people. He will present His bride unto Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. The day of His appearing will be the manifestation of a perfect body as well as a perfect Head. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun” when their Lord’s countenance is “as the sun shineth in his strength.” As He will be “without sin,” so will they be “without sin.” Oh, what a glorious appearing will this be;—a true appearing, yet the very opposite of the first! If we are really expecting our Lord to come, we shall be concerned to have everything ready for His appearing. I sometimes see the great gates open in front of the larger houses in the suburbs; it usually means that the master is expected soon. Keep the great gates of your soul always open, ready for your Lord’s return. It is idle to talk about looking for His coming if we never set our house in order, and never put ourselves in readiness for His reception. Looking for Him, means that we stand in a waiting attitude, as a servant who expects his master to be at the door presently. Do not say, “The Lord will not come yet, and therefore I shall make my plans for the next twenty or thirty years irrespective of Him.” You may not be here in the next twenty or thirty minutes; or, if you are, your Lord may be here also. He is already on the road; He started long ago, and He sent on a herald before Him to cry, “Behold, I come quickly.” He has been coming quickly over the mountains of division ever since; and He must be here soon. If you are truly looking for His appearing, you will be found in the attitude of one who waits and watches, that when his Lord cometh he may meet Him with joy. Are you thus expecting Him? I am afraid I shall only be speaking the truth if I say that very few Christians are, in the highest sense, waiting for the appearing of their Lord and Saviour. As to watching, this is still more rare than waiting. The fact is, even the better sort of believers, who wait for His coming, as all the ten virgins did, nevertheless do not watch, as the whole ten waiters slumbered and slept. This is a mournful business. A man, who is asleep, cannot be said to look; yet it is “unto them that look for Him” that the Lord is to “appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” We must be wide-awake to look; we ought to go up to the watch-tower every morning, and look toward the sunrising, to see whether Christ is coming; and our last act at night should be to look out for His star, and ask, “Is He coming?” It ought to be a daily disappointment when our Lord does not come; instead of being, as I fear it is, a kind of foregone conclusion that He will not come just yet. Many professing Christians appear to forget all about Christ’s second coming; others drop a smile when we speak about it, as though it was a subject that belonged only to fanatics and dreamers. But ye, beloved, I trust are not of that kind. As ye believe really in the first coming and the one great sacrifice, so believe really in the second coming without a sin-offering unto the climax of your salvation. Standing between Christ’s cross and His crown, between the cloud that received Him out of our sight, and the clouds with which He will come with ten thousands of His saints to judge the quick and the dead, let us live as men who are not of this world, strangers in this age which darkly lies between two bright appearings, happy beings saved by a mystery accomplished, and soon to be glorified by another mystery which is hastening on to its fulfillment. Let us, like that woman mentioned in the Revelation, have the moon under our feet, and keep all sublunary things in their proper place. May we even now be made to sit together in the heavenlies with Christ, that, when He appears, we may also appear with Him in glory! Amen. Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 143–152). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Christ's Incarnation, A Quietus to Fear Christ's Incarnation, A Quietus to Fear THE angel said to the shepherds, “Fear not: for, 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.” The very object for which He was born, and came into this world, was that He might deliver us from sin. What, then, was it that made us afraid? Were we not afraid of God, because we felt that we were lost through sin? Well, then, here is joy upon joy, for not only has the Lord come among us as a man, but He was made man in order that He might save man from that which separated him from God. I feel as if the sorrow of my heart would flow forth in a flood of tears over the many sinners who have gone far away from God, and have been spending their lives riotously in various evil ways. I know they are afraid to come back; they think that the Lord will not receive them, and that there is no mercy for such sinners as they have been. But Jesus Christ has come to seek and to save that which was lost. If He does not save, He was born in vain, for the object of His birth was the salvation of sinners. If He shall not be a Saviour, then His mission in coming to this earth has missed its end, for its design was that lost sinners might be saved. Lost one, lost one, if there were news that an angel had come to save thee, there might be some good cheer in it; but there are better tidings still. God Himself has come; the Infinite, the Almighty, has stooped from the highest heaven that He may pick thee up, a poor undone and worthless worm. Is there not comfort for thee here? Does not the Incarnation of the Saviour take away the horrible dread which hangs over men like a black pall? The angel described the new-born Saviour as “Christ.” There is His manhood, for it was as man that He was anointed. But the angel also rightly called Him “Christ the Lord.” There is His Godhead. This is the solid truth upon which we plant our foot. Jesus of Nazareth is “very God of very God.” He who was born in Bethlehem’s manger is now, and always was, “over all, God blessed for ever.” There is no Gospel at all if Christ be not God. It is no news to me to tell me that a great prophet is born. There have been great prophets before; but the world has never been redeemed from evil by mere testimony to the truth, and it never will be. But tell me that God is born, that God Himself has espoused our nature, and taken it into union with Himself, then the bells of my heart ring merry peals, for now may I come to God since God has come to me. God has sent an Ambassador who inspires no fear. Not with helmet and coat of mail, not with sword or spear, does Heaven’s Herald approach us; but the white flag is held in the hand of a Child, in the hand of One chosen out of the people, in the hand of One who died, in the hand of One who, though He reigns in glory, wears the nailprints still. O man, God comes to you in the form of one like yourself! Do not be afraid to draw near to the gentle Jesus. Do not imagine that you need to be prepared for an audience with Him, or that you must have the intercession of a saint, or the intervention of priest or minister. Anyone could have come to the Babe in Bethlehem. The hornèd oxen, methinks, ate of the hay on which He slept, and feared not. It is the terror of the Godhead which, oftentimes, keeps the sinner away from reconciliation; but see how the Godhead is graciously concealed in that little Babe, who needed to be wrapped in swaddling-bands like any other new-born child. Who feareth to approach Him? Yet is the Godhead there. My soul, when thou canst not, for very amazement, stand on the sea of glass mingled with fire, when the Divine glory is like a consuming fire to thy spirit, and the sacred majesty of Heaven is altogether overpowering to thee, then come thou to this Babe, and say, “Yet God is here, and here can I meet Him in the person of His dear Son, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Oh, what bliss there is in the Incarnation of Christ as we remember that therein God’s omnipotence cometh down to man’s feebleness, and infinite majesty stoops to man’s infirmity! The shepherds were not to find this Babe wrapped in Tyrian purple, nor swathed in choicest fabrics fetched from afar. “No crown bedecks His forehead fair, No pearl, nor gem, nor silk is there.” Nor would they discover Him in the marble halls of princes, nor guarded by prætorian legionaries, nor attended by vassal sovereigns; but they would find Him the babe of a peasant woman,—of princely lineage, it is true, but of a family whose stock was dry and forgotten in Israel. The Holy Child was reputed to be the son of a carpenter. If you looked on the humble father and mother, and at the poor bed they had made up, where aforetime oxen had come to feed, you would say, “This is condescension indeed.” O ye poor, be glad, for Jesus is born in poverty, and cradled in a manger! O ye sons of toil, rejoice, for the Saviour is born of a lowly virgin, and a carpenter is His foster-father! O ye people, oftentimes despised and downtrodden, the Prince of the democracy is born, One chosen out of the people is exalted to the throne! O ye who call yourselves the aristocracy, behold the Prince of the kings of the earth, whose lineage is Divine, and yet there is no room for Him in the inn! Behold, O men, the Son of God, who is bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh; who, in His after life, was intimate with all your griefs, hungered as ye hunger, was weary as ye are weary, and wore humble garments like your own; yea, suffered worse poverty than you do, for He was without a place whereon to lay His head! Let the heavens and the earth be glad, since God hath so fully, so truly come down to man. Jesus is the Friend of the poor, the sinful, and the unworthy. You, poor ones, need not fear to come unto Him; for He was born in a stable, and cradled in a manger. You have not worse accommodation than He had; you are not poorer than He was. Come and welcome to the poor man’s Prince, to the peasant’s Saviour. Stay not back through fear of your unfitness; the shepherds came to Him in all their déshabille. I read not that they tarried to put on their best garments; but, in the clothes in which they wrapped themselves that cold midnight, they hastened, just as they were, to the young Child’s presence. God looks not at garments, but at hearts; and accepts men when they come to Him with willing spirits, whether they be rich or poor. Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 25–29). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Christ's Incarnation, The Wonder of Angels Christ's Incarnation, The Wonder of Angels HOW surprised the angels must have been when they were first informed that Jesus Christ, the Prince of life, intended to shroud Himself in clay, and become a human babe, and live and die upon the earth! We know not how the information was first communicated to the angels; but when the rumor began to circulate among the shining hosts, we may imagine what strange wonderment there was in their lofty minds. What! was it true that He, whose crown was all bedight with stars, would lay that crown aside? What! was it certain that He, about whose shoulders was cast the purple robe of universal sovereignty, would become a man, dressed in a peasant’s garment? Could it be true that He, who was everlasting and immortal, would one day be nailed to a cross? How their wonderment must have increased as the details of the Saviour’s life and death were made known to them. Well might they desire to “look into” these things, which were so surprising and mysterious to them. And when He descended from on high, they followed Him; for Jesus was “seen of angels,” and seen in a very special sense; for they looked upon Him in rapturous amazement, wondering what it could mean when He, “who was rich, for our sakes became poor.” Do you see Him as, on that day of Heaven’s eclipse, He did, as it were, ungird Himself of His majesty? Can you conceive the increasing wonder of the heavenly hosts when the great deed was actually done, when they saw His priceless tiara taken off, when they watched Him unbind His girdle of stars, and cast away His sandals of gold? Can you conceive what must have been the astonishment of the angels when He said to them, “I do not disdain the womb of the virgin; I am going down to earth to become a man”? Can you picture them as they declared that they would follow Him? They followed Him as near as He would permit them; and when they came to earth, they began to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Nor would they go away till they had made the shepherds also wonder, and till heaven had hung out new stars in honor of the new-born King. And now wonder, ye angels, as ye see that the Infinite has become an infant. He, upon whose shoulders the universe doth hang, hangs at His mother’s breast. He, who created all things by the word of His power, and who bears up the pillars of creation, hath now become so weak that He must be carried in the arms of a woman! Wonder, ye that knew Him in His riches, whilst ye behold Him in His poverty. Where sleeps the new-born King? Hath He the best room in Cæsar’s palace? Hath a cradle of gold been prepared for Him, and pillows of down, on which to rest His head? No; in the dilapidated stable where the oxen stood, and in the manger where they fed, there the Saviour lies, swathed in the swaddling-bands of the children of poverty. Nor doth He rest long there; on a sudden, His mother must carry Him to Egypt; He must go there, and become a stranger in a strange land. When He came back, and grew up at Nazareth, the angels must have marveled to see Him that made the worlds handle the hammer and the nails, assisting His reputed father in the trade of a carpenter. Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 33–35). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Comments are closed.