And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory…
There was an end sought; by what means should it be reached? There was a tremendous necessity; how should it be met? There was an infinitely gracious wonder to be wrought; in what wondrous way should it be accomplished? This was the problem. Conjectures as to its solution only serve to show that the way taken was the only way.
1. Almighty compulsion would have crushed human freedom, put human virtue aside, turned grace into magic.
2. Moral influence or persuasion would have left man's past disobedience uncancelled, the sanctities of law despised, authority abolished by Him in whom it was established. At best there would have been an invertebrate manhood, a molluscous morality.
3. Voices of audible command or promise spoken perpetually from heaven to earth would have formed a revelation as grotesque as ineffectual.
4. Written communications must have been subject to manifold hindrances and limitations as an agency of salvation, as was shown when they were actually employed.
5. A redemption by sacrifice must depend on the value of the victim sacrificed; human sacrifices would contravene all the teachings of the Divine economy touching the sanctity of human life, and of the insufficiency of the sacrifice of brutes, apart from their typical sense, the religious history of the world affords abundant evidence. We look, then, as we are bidden to look, for the reuniting power between God and man, to the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.
I. This appears in THE TWOFOLD FORM OF A FACT AND A PERSON, both being far more conclusive than any course of abstract reasoning in theodicy, or any theological demonstration. The fact and the person both take their place in the public scenery of events, in inspired Scriptures, in general history, in a line of great transactions inexplicable without them; and they have become imbedded in the experience and enshrined in the reverent and loving faith of millions of men through fifty generations. What is this fact? The life of God appears on the earth not only harmonized, but perfectly blended with the life of man. Humanity begins again with a possibility and offer of a restoration which is salvation to all who will receive it. As the life of God is in Christ, we share in it by being united to Christ. He took our human nature. The Divine nature or life was not naturally ours — it was lost. We become "partakers" of it. Each individual believer in this covenant of grace, lives eternally. Abiding in the vine, the branch lives, grows, bears fruit. Here is the certainty of immortality.
II. THE RELATION OF THE INCARNATION, THEN, TO THE BODY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE is not difficult to be determined.
1. It is the comprehensive truth of revelation. We may take any article of the Christian creed, except those which affirm or imply the unity of God and the natural depravity of men, and attempt to separate it from this supreme and central fact, and we fail.
2. As the doctrine is comprehensive, so it is distinctive. In the ancient ethnic religions, in the Gnostic theosophies and emanations of the East, as in modern Deism, Pantheism, and Positivism, there is nothing that can be mistaken for it.
III. THE DOCTRINE OR THE FACT HOLDS A LIKE CENTRAL AND INCLUSIVE POSITION IN HOLY SCRIPTURE. There is a unity in the sacred writings, and that unity is the person of the Incarnate Word. The development of the kingdom of God among mankind follows naturally a historical method; and so Genesis comes first, with much afterwards, in the preparatory dispensations, before the birth of the Saviour. But the real "beginning," or genesis, is given in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John. From that radiant dayspring the light is reflected back to Eden, and shines forward to the Apocalypse. By this reading, innumerable difficulties, which have given superfluous trouble, disappear. The parts take their due proportions.
IV. LOOKING ONWARD, WITH THIS WARRANT, FROM OUR LORD'S ASCENSION, WE SEE THE INTERIOR PRINCIPLE OF HIS KINGDOM as it is set up among the nations and expands along the ages. Christ not only watches His family from above, He dwells and works within it. His family is His body, and His body is His bride, and His bride is His Church; and He lives in the members. What began in the past eternity proceeds in the eternity to come, and to "the Word" there is but one eternity. We see our calling. What an inheritance! What privilege! What responsibilities!
Parallel VersesKJV: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.