There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
There lies, deep down in the heart of mankind, not always read aright by the spirit of man which is in him, but always read aright by Him who has all hearts in his hand, a craving, yearning, thirsting desire for this reversal of the curse of Babel — for this re-gathering and re-uniting which is to be found only in Christ. We speak of rest as man's want. But what rest? Not a rest of dreamy or dreamless slumber; not a rest of indolent self-indulgence; not a rest of undisturbed self-contained isolation: this cannot satisfy the want of a spirit come from and returning to God; this cannot fill the capacities of a heaven-born, everlasting existence. Underneath the longing for rest lies another longing — and that is for union, unity, oneness; for a voice to recall God's scattered ones from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea, and make for them one blessed home, not by building upon earth a tower whose top shall reach heaven, but by bringing down out of heaven that holy city of which God, God in Christ, shall be at once the Light, and the Presence, and the Temple. The heart craves union: till it finds union it cannot know rest. And this craving for union is often ignorant, often impatient, often perverse, often sinful. It does not, all at once, even when it hears the gospel, submit itself to God's will, to Christ's direction, as to the end to be sought, or the manner of the seeking. One man, his heart all athirst for that rest which is union, will look out for himself some earthly object, which he may deck with every fancied perfection, and then bow before it as his idol. Another, of a less refined mould and making, will even find a gross, base, and perishing union in some companionship in sinning. For the moment he finds himself less alone; for the moment he has slaked the thirst of his soul at a muddy and a broken cistern — even in a counterfeit union, to be followed by a more aching loneliness than the former. And if men happen to have a different conception of the natural dispersion — either because their affections are less lively, or their ideas wider and more philosophical — then they frame projects, larger or smaller, of combination and fellowship; they will unite men in leagues, societies, associations, which are to reform nations or remodel Churches: disappointed of unity here, they will seek it there: a new sect shall give them that sense of perfect harmony which older creeds and communions have failed to inspire: even an excluding process has been tried, where schemes of comprehension have been found vain: still beyond, a little beyond, has lain the goal of absolute oneness, and still a weary and foot-sore multitude have plodded and tramped after it — in vain! And then, all at once, there enters this world of dispersion and disunion — enters it, as by a small wicket-gate, in remote, insignificant Palestine — One who represents Himself as possessing, for all mankind, for all time, not only the secret of rest, but the very rest itself — One who cries aloud in the temple-court, crowded for a great festival, in words absolutely unique, probably, in philosophy or in religion, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink" — drink, as He explains Himself, a water which is absolutely satisfying, because it brings into the soul that kind of rest which is union, union with God, and so union with itself and with its brother. "Ye are all one in Christ Jesus." In Him the dispersion is regathered. All things, St. Paul says, in heaven and in earth are gathered together in Him. It seems as though even angels who never fell are in some manner interested and concerned in that regathering. Certainly the dead, equally with the living, are so. And I desire to say to you, this last night, how alone you and I can ever henceforward be at one. Each separately must enter into, must put on, must invest himself with Jesus Christ. Are the words ambiguous? You know what they say. They bid you to cast all your burden of guilt — is it not heavy? too heavy for you? — upon Christ as your atonement. They bid you to cast all your burden of sin and sorrow and conscious weakness — is it not heavy? too heavy for you? — upon Christ as your friend. Then are you inside Him. He includes, He contains you — and in the dread day of days, when the Avenger of blood looks for you, he shall find only Christ — only Jesus Christ and Him crucified, Him risen I In the exercise of that incorporation, of that union, of that oneness, will our true fellowship henceforth be found. You might detain me, you might pursue me, and yet we might not be one — not one person certainly! But if you and I are all inside Christ, then we must be at one. Then all minor differences, of place and intercourse, sink at once into nothing. Place and sight may make the difference of pleasure, of comfort, of expressed communion, of conscious unity. But they make no difference whatever, as to the reality, as to the essence of union. You may worship here, and I there — you may kneel at these rails, I at others — what then? We are all one person in Christ. In the face of such union, let us learn — it is a hard lesson — let us learn to despise and trample under foot all other. What is neighbourhood? What is co-existence? Men live next door to each other, and never meet — meet, and never commune — commune, and never are one. At last a call comes — one goes forth, at the summons of business, of necessity, of the gospel, to a distant shore — seas roll between — they never see, they never hear of each other more — yet, for the first time, they may be one — one person — in Christ. The communion of saints is between them — and therefore the life of life — the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting. Now first they are one. Days may pass, months, years, quarters of centuries — but that bond is fastened between them which cannot be broken. Now life is seen to be death, and death life. Now they know, or they shall know, that the Babel-dispersion is a Christ-gathering. They may have loved each other here, and trembled at the great parting. Now they know that that parting is the groat, the first, the final reunion. Or, it may be, here they have not loved equally, not happily, not without doubting. One loved more than the other — the lavished love seemed to be wasted. There was no felt reciprocity — it was all on one side. O, look forward! Spend all your thoughts upon the union in Christ! Make your friend love Him, then he will at last love you!
Parallel VersesKJV: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.