And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory…
I. THE DESIRE. The desire of a Saviour had attained its maturity in the period of universal decline which preceded the Advent. This desire was a prophecy of its own satisfaction because inspired, nourished and developed by the God to whom the heart addresses itself. A child is born called Jesus whose name announces all that He came to do. What do men say about Him?
1. That He is a fabulous symbol of that union of man with God realized in the development of reason. But if this be the case why has man desired one outside of his own reason? What meaning is there in the history of religions.
2. That He was a great social reformer. But His gospel is profoundly spiritual and traces all external reform to inward moral renovation. But is man's heart satisfied with the idea of a social reformer? Had Christ swept away every social abuse and satisfied every national need, the human heart would still have yearned for a Saviour.
3. That He was a philosopher, the Socrates of Jerusalem. But man does not need such. The ancient world had more than it required. It had the greatest and purest of sages, but found no rest in their schools. Man desires something higher, shall his Christ then be —
4. A prophet? Prophets will not avail, for the greatest have most ardently desired a Saviour and were but men.
5. An angel? No, or Mary would have seen Him in Gabriel. Angels could celebrate His birth but not take His place. Turning now to the desire we shall see that man's cry has been for a God-Man.Two well-defined sentiments enter with it.
1. The hope of finding God. For this alone has man passed from one religion to another.
(1) This God not the inert and isolated God of philosophy, lost in the solitudes of heaven: but
(2) a living, present God.
2. The sorrow of condemnation. Man longs to appease a justly offended God. He therefore offers sacrifice, the produce of his fields, the first-born of his flocks, nay, his child, his brother. But it avails nothing. A sacrifice must be found that is both pure and human. For many ages man has sighed for an incarnation in order to redeeming sacrifice. This is what has been promised. Ancient prophecy recognized in the Messiah's person the man and the God, the Victim and the King.
II. THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE DESIRE. "The Word was made flesh."
1. What is this but that before He existed in God as a personal being. Had the Word been a Divine virtue or influence, it would had in it nothing special or distinctive, and therefore could have been no Saviour. Nor could it have communicated the knowledge of the true God. "God is love." A God who did not love would be a God dead. But how should God be from all eternity, a God of love, if He had no object for His love? Where, then, will you find this object if not in that Word which is God, and yet is distinct from Him. The Son gives as the Father.
2. He shows us the living nature of God's revelations. A perfect revelation of the living and eternal God is living and eternal as Himself: the express image of the Father. Each utterance has life like the Word Himself. God has spoken
(1) In Eternity, and His Word is His only Son,
(2) In Time, and Creation was the echo of the Word.
(3) In Revelation, and each of the syllables of the Word was a fact of mystery.
(4) In redemption and now the Word is made flesh.While giving full weight to His Divinity, let us not attenuate His humanity. The one is as necessary to our salvation as the other. By being Man and yet one with the Father, He was able to consummate on the cross His redeeming sacrifice, drawing the heart of man to God and the heart of God to man.
III. THE PROOFS OF THIS DOCTRINE.
1. The history of Jesus shows us Divinity and humanity united in His person. His personal humiliation from the manger to the cross side by side with the glory of His morals and perfect character.
2. Jesus was conscious of and professed His union. He speaks of Himself as the Son of Man and the Son of God; and insisted on His oneness with the Father.
3. The apostolic Church confirmed this doctrine, proclaiming His Divinity and worshipping Him.
IV. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS DOCTRINE. Christianity stands or falls with it.
1. For whose sake do the impugners of the doctrine deny it?
(1) For the sake of God? But the Deist gives us instead of the living, consummate God an abstract and distant Divinity. We don't know where to find Him, and He has never dried a single tear nor gladdened a heart. Thus God is libelled and His cause compromised.
(2) For the sake of man? But man has desired this God-Man: He only has blessed the race.
2. If what the impugners say is true, Christianity is an imposture and Christ a deceiver. And yet He is admitted to be the noblest of Beings. Let these considerations be weighed.
V. CHRISTIANS ARE ENTRUSTED WITH THIS DOCTRINE. Let it not slumber in creeds, but be preserved in a living faith and communion.
(E. de Pressense, D. D.)
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.