The Person of Christ

IN the Gospel by John, and especially in the first chapter, we have a wonderful presentation of the Person of Christ, the blessed Son of God. Now the sum and substance of Christianity is found in the fullness that is in Him, and in the wondrous work which he has accomplished at the cross of Calvary. We have two advents of this blessed One into this world recorded here, and elsewhere in the Scriptures: the first, which has taken place, when He came as the Saviour; and the second, when He will come as the Judge, as well as a preliminary one to this latter, when He will descend into the air as the Saviour of His people to receive them in their bodies to Himself (1 Thess. 4:16-1716For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17); Phil. 3:20, 2120For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20‑21)). This latter event is what may take place any moment, and the only thing that hinders it is the longsuffering of our Lord, which is salvation (2 Peter 3:1515And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; (2 Peter 3:15)) which salvation is still being preached to sinners in the gospel, so that any one who now receives Christ is saved (Acts 16:3131And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31)), and added to the happy company of believers who await Him— God's Son from heaven (1 Thess. 1:1010And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)).
Now at the first advent of Christ into this world, when He, as the Light, shone in the moral darkness of this scene (1 John 5), the result as to man was much the same as it is to-day, as also we may trace the condition of man in this day to be the same as in that. Christ was not only found down here, come close to man where He was, but God, to give man every chance, sent a forerunner named John (the Baptist) to call attention to Him, to be a preacher sent from God. (1 John 5) to herald Him forth; which he does most blessedly, and in the way any one first needs to know Him, by announcing Him in the character really of the Saviour, in those wondrous words, " Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world " (John 1:2929The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)).
The result of this was, as I have said, much the same as to-day, although, as we shall see, there were a few individuals who were the exception to the general rule. It is written, “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 " (John 1:11-1211He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:11‑12)). There was the world at large, and His own people, the Jews, who were outwardly so. He was generally rejected by both. So we find it to-day, for we have all around us a people professing to be Christians, who own God who have, like the Jews, the Scriptures (John 5:3939Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39)), who have their places of worship, as they had their temple: there is an earthly priesthood and an earthly religion to-day, as then. But let me affectionately ask any such, any who as yet have only a profession of religion to rest upon, Is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ precious to your soul? Let me put a test.
Let me step into any house or company of merely professing Christians, and introduce to you the subject, speaking of Him; is He the One you most care to think or speak of; or would it be more welcome to speak of some great man of the day, some distinguished character in this world's arena, a great preacher, orator, statesman, general, or any other, or even an infidel?
Dear reader, we may all find out easily enough where we are as regards God.; bring in Christ. Is He to you the chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely (SoS. 5:10-16), or is He to you the despised and rejected of men (Isaiah 53:33He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3))? Do you want Christ, or do you think to go on without Him. Paul said, “If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maranatha" (1 Cor. 16:2222If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. (1 Corinthians 16:22)). Solemn words, and not harsh, if rightly considered. God is jealous concerning his Son, how He is treated by man, and makes this the one great test, while He has shown His love in giving Him to die for sinners, such as we all are (Rom. 3:2323For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)), that any, believing in Him, might be saved, or receiving Him, might have life, through His name.
But what a beautiful contrast in this chapter to the general unbelief, do we find in John the Baptist, as well as in the case of a few others. The pharisaical priests and Levites of Jerusalem might question the simple ministry of the man sent from God, and raise the question, " Who art thou? " and John might reply to them, to touch their consciences, if possible, that he was there to make straight the way of the Lord, whom they knew not, neither desired, confessing, too, he was not the Christ, yet was he one who confessed that blessed One, as infinitely preferred before him, for He was, as a divine Person, before him, though coming, as a man, after him, and he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe. Christ was to him an all-absorbing object, and he a true believer in His name, and a voice moreover in this wilderness world (John 1:2323He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. (John 1:23)) to call upon sinners to "Behold the Lamb of God." And, beloved reader, we re-echo this blessed strain, we touch the same note—
“’Tis music in our ears.”
and bid you to-day "Behold" this same Lamb— Jesus; not now, indeed, on earth, yet the same as yesterday, and forever (Heb. 13:88Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)), the Lamb as it had been slain, now in the midst of the throne above (Rev. 5:66And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6)); not about to take away the sin of the world, but who has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)) and who is now presented in another part of the same apostle's writings, the Book of the Revelation, as the Lamb slain, now alive again.
And, beloved, think of this, there was a necessity that God's Lamb should be slain (John 3:1414And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: (John 3:14)). Thus God provided for the condemnation of sin, at the cross, when that most precious blood was shed, which alone cleanseth from all sin the one who trusts it.
May this one be yourself, and with the same effect, as in the case of the two disciples, who left John, and followed Jesus. No fitness, no meetness is required for this,—
“But to know your need of Him.”
But, it may be, you have not been brought to this, and often there are hindrances, but always connected with ourselves, we having generally wrong thoughts of our own, or deceived by others; also our natural pride of heart being the greatest, we refuse a gospel that makes nothing of man, and everything of Christ, that makes all to rest upon His Person and work, and makes utterly nothing of us or our works, or religiousness whatsoever.
Now, in this chapter which we are considering, we find Christ presented in other ways than the Saviour, and often men will rest satisfied to believe in a natural way in Him thus, not seeing the important first thing for all, is to be able to say for oneself, He is my Saviour, He loved me, and gave Himself for me.
Passing by the first two verses, which present Him as the eternal Son, the Word, having being, whenever the beginning was, in the third verse we have Him as the Creator. No one should despise a natural owning of God in this way, yet nature will never lead to the knowledge of nature's God. No, one must, as a convicted sinner, be brought to know Christ as Saviour first, then afterward as Creator. Let us not reverse this, for no spiritual, real knowledge of the Creator or creation is there, apart from the faith in Him (Heb. 11:33Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3)), which also saves.
Then in beautiful order, in the 14th verse, the Incarnation is presented, the divine Word become flesh, Christ as a man here below.
The enemy of souls makes a very subtle use of this to deceive many. It is said, through the false teaching of the day, that thus Christ became united to man, the sinful race of Adam, for such we are by nature, and in virtue of this, man really gets a fresh start, and if any one goes on to follow and carry out certain religious duties, and lead a moral life, he will get to heaven at last, quite shrouding and displacing the death of Christ, by giving undue prominence to the incarnation. Be warned against this, for two reasons: one, that it is one form. of salvation by good works of man, as depending partly upon him, and another that Jesus Himself has said that, "Except a corn of wheat (Himself) fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone," &c. (John 12:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24)). Far be the thought that the spotless, Holy One, should, or could be united to sinful man: no, He remained alone (although necessarily taking the body prepared for Him in incarnation, the holy thing that was born (Luke 1:3535And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)) in order to die), until He did die, and rise again, and not until He took His seat on high, and sent down the Holy Ghost, on the day of Pentecost, as the One who baptizeth therewith, were any united to Him, one spirit with the Lord.
The above form of unbelief, for such it is, is what men would always like, for it makes something of them, and presents Christ, as if He were a reformer of man, which He never is, but the Saviour.
Further, there might be one who reads these lines, who is thinking of Christ, as He is presented. in the 9th verse, as the true light, and misinterpreting this passage, expounding it as if lighting every man, was the communication of something good to every man, an inward light in all, and making it depend upon them, as to whether they put it out, or keep it burning by their walk and life. But the meaning is that the Light shining, casts a light upon, really exposes the darkness one is in. The great necessity within, is life, which is the gift of God; it is true, if the exposure by the light to the all-searching eye of God lead one to repentance, then Love gives the blessing, but men may go out from the presence of God, as Cain of old, or the Pharisees of the 8th chapter of this gospel, whilst a poor, wretched, convicted sinner remaining there, will hear the word of grace and love from the lips of Jesus, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (John 8:1111She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:11)). Again, there are those who talk of free will, yet the only thing man does of his own free will, under the power of Satan, is to sin against God, sever to turn to Him; those who believe "are born," as verse 13 shows, " not of blood, nor of the will of the 'flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Perhaps someone may answer at once, this is true, "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:99But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. (Jonah 2:9)); but let me tell you that, though you are not responsible, as you may be thinking, for power to do ought to save yourself, yet you are to believe the gospel, which is God's power, unto salvation to every one that believeth, as the 12th verse shows, speaking of individuals who receive Christ by believing in His Name. What a wondrous weapon the Word of God is, as a sword turning every way, against all the vain thoughts and. doctrines of men, and misapplication of its own doctrine; how blessed, my reader, if it has done its work with you, and thus you find yourself laid low in the presence of God, as a good for nothing sinner, and discover Christ to be the Saviour. To you is the message of the Gospel, “Behold the Lamb of God." Look simply, and only to Jesus, and live.
It is an individual thing, to" as many as received Him," and these things were written “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name " (John 20:3131But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)). And then to turn away from man and follow Him (John 21:2222Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. (John 21:22)). May thus the Person of the Christ of God be most precious to your soul. The law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:1717For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)) We do not preach Moses to you, telling you to “do and live," but we preach Christ, telling you of what has been done, that ye might believe and live. Salvation is not of works, lest any man should boast, but of faith, by grace (Eph. 2:88For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8)).
"Oh, the glory of the grace
Shining in the Saviour's face,
Telling sinners from above
God is Light, and God is Love.”
J. S. C.