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But that this Light shines in vain with respect to many is, alas! but too evident. So it was when the Sun of righteousness first arose upon our benighted world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. Though He was the Creator of all things, yet when He appeared among His creatures, notwithstanding mighty works showed forth themselves in Him,6 they did not receive Him, they did not acknowledge Him; they would not allow His claims, they would not submit to His authority. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. His own were the lost sheep of the house of Israel,65 the ancient people of God, with whom were deposited the prophecies which went before concerning Him. They were in expectation of the appearance of a mighty Deliverer, who was called by them the Messiah. But such blindness had darkened their minds, that they looked only for a temporal Deliverer from a foreign yoke; and they desired only temporal benefits from their expected Messiah. A deliverance from the bondage of sin and Satan was not that which they were anxious to obtain. They were satisfied with their religious privileges, and prided themselves on the form of godliness which they had adopted. They therefore did not receive Him, but rejected the blessings that He came to bestow upon them.
64 Matthew xiv. 2.
65 Matthew xv. 24.
There were, however, some poor people who did receive Him in the way in which His own nation ought all to have received Him. Of these it is said, As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. The name whereby He was known on earth was JESUS, the Saviour of sinners. For His name was called JESUS, because He should save His people from their sins. 66 Those persons received Him, who believed on His name, who put their trust in Him for the salvation of their souls, who felt their need of spiritual redemption from the bondage of Satan and sin. That there were such persons at that time, who were desirous of obtaining a spiritual deliverance, appears from its being said of Anna, the prophetess, that she spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.67 These persons He admitted to the high privilege of becoming the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. They had the Spirit of adoption given to them, whereby they were enabled to call God their Father; and as His children to seek and to enjoy His protection and His blessing. They became the children of God in consequence of the influence of His grace upon their hearts, by His Spirit working in them in due season. They were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,
66 Matthew i. 21.
67 Luke ii. 38.
68 Galatians iii. 26.
nor of the will of man, but of God. They were not born Christians, but were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. They were not made Christians by their own power or natural ability, nor by that of their fellow creatures; but by the Almighty power and regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, who applied the word of God, the testimony concerning Jesus Christ and His great salvation, to their hearts and consciences; so that they received the truth as it is in Jesus in the love of it, and became new creatures, putting off the old man with his deeds, and being renewed in the spirit of their minds, and putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.69 Here we see a people separated from the world that lieth in wickedness, and distinguished from the rest of mankind by their knowledge of Christ, by receiving Him, by believing in His name as the Saviour of sinners. These persons are born of God, they are acknowledged by Him as His children, and they shall be partakers of all the blessedness which God has promised to bestow upon His children. They receive the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father.
The Spirit Himself beareth witness with their spirit that they are the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, who shall be glorified together
68 Eph. ii. 3.
69 Eph. iv. 22-24.
70 Rom. viii. 15—17.
with their Saviour. How important is it that their character and blessedness should be our portion! If we would be admitted into the glory of God in the kingdom of heaven, we must know Christ as the Saviour of our souls, we must believe in Him as He is revealed to us in the words we have been considering.
The Evangelist proceeds to inform us how it was that the Creator of all things appeared in our world. 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. It is said that He was made flesh, to denote that He was subject to the infirmities, or bodily weakness, attendant on human nature. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh," but without sin, for He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. It is said of Him, We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.2 As having been made flesh, our ever blessed Redeemer was subject to hunger and thirst, to cold and weariness, to pain and death. For all flesh
71 Romans viii. 3.
72 Hebrews vii. 26. iv. 15. ii. 17.
is grass, feeble and fading. What an astonishing mystery of Divine love was this! That the Creator of all things should come and appear in our world as a feeble infant, and gradually grow up to manhood, increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.73 This is most incomprehensible to human reason. But it is a fact related to us by Divine revelation, and that is sufficient to silence all doubt upon the subject.
When we consider the purpose for which the Lord Jesus came forth from the Father, and came into the world, that it was for us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven, we may well rejoice at the declaration of the holy Scripture, that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. The expression dwelt among us has reference to a tent or tabernacle. It intimates that the Divine presence inhabited a tabernacle of clay. And that as Jehovah had been accustomed to manifest His presence to the children of Israel in the tabernacle in the wilderness, so His glory was displayed in the man Christ Jesus. Thus God in very deed dwelt with men on earth.” And by His Divine presence in human nature, in the temple at Jerusalem, He made the glory of the latter house greater than the glory of the former house;76 although the splendour of the building
78 Luke ii. 52. 74 John xvi. 28. 752 Chron. vi. 18. 76 Hag. ii.9.