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   Chapter 2 The Person of Jesus

Quiet Talks about Jesus By S. D. Gordon Characters: 44728

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


The Human Jesus.

The Divine Jesus.

The Winsome Jesus.

The Human Jesus

God's Meaning of "Human."

Jesus is God becoming man's fellow. He comes down by his side and says, "Let's pull up together." Jesus was a man. He was as truly human as though only human. We are apt to go at a thing from the outside. God always reaches within, and fastens His hook there. He finds the solution of every problem within itself. When He would lead man back the Eden road to the old trysting place under the tree of life He sent a man. Jesus takes His place as a man and refuses to be budged from the human level with His brothers.

That word human has come to have two meanings. The first true meaning, and a second, that has grown up through sin, and sin's taint and trail. The second has become the common popular meaning; the first, the forgotten meaning. It will help us live up to our true possible selves to mark keenly the distinction. The first is God's meaning, the true. The second is sin's, the hurt meaning. Constantly we read the effect and result of sin into God's thought as though that were the real thing. This is grained in deep, woven into the adages of the race. For instance, "To err is human, to forgive divine." Yet this catchy statement is not true, save in part. To forgive is human--God's human--as well as divine. Not to forgive is devilish. It is not human to err. It is possible to the human being to err, as it is with angels, but, in erring, man is leaving the human level and going lower down.

To understand what it means to say that Jesus is human we must recall what human meant originally, and has properly come to mean. Man as made by God before the hurt of sin came had certain powers and limitations. His powers, briefly, were, mastery of his body, of his mental faculties, and powers in the spirit realm so lost to us now that we cannot even say definitely what they are. And mastery means poised, mature control, not misuse, nor abuse, nor lack of use, but full proper use. Possibly there were powers of communication between men in addition to speech unknown to us. Then, too, he had dominion over nature, over all the animal creation, over all the forces of nature, and not only dominion, but fellowship with the animal creation and with the forces of nature: dominion through fellowship.

He had certain limitations. Having a body was a limitation. The necessity for food, sleep, rest, and for exertion in order to move through space acted as a constant check upon his movements and achievements. He could not go into a building except through some opening. The law of growth, of such infinite value to man under his conditions, was likewise a check. Only by slow laborious effort and application would there come the discipline of mental powers and the knowledge necessary to life's work.

The Hurt of Sin.

Now, in addition to these natural limitations sin has made other changes. It has lessened the powers and increased the limitations. There has been immense loss in the power over the forces of nature, though now, by slow and very laborious efforts, after centuries, much is being regained. Instead of fellowship there has been an estrangement between man and the lower animals and between man and the forces of nature. All of this has immensely added to man's limitations, though it is true that most men do not know of what has been lost, so complete has the loss been.

The natural limitations have been added to. Sin affects the judgment. It brings ignorance and passion, and they affect the judgment. There results lack of care of the body, improper use of the strength, and ignorant and improper use of the bodily functions. Then come weakness and disease and shortened life, not to speak of the misery included in these and the enjoyment missed. In the chain of results comes the toil that is drudgery. Not work, but excessive work, more than one should do, with less strength than one should have. Work itself under natural conditions is always a delight. But through sin has come strain, tugging, friction, unequal division. The changes wrought in nature by sin call for greater effort with less return. Toil becomes slavish and grinding. Then poverty adds its tug. And sorrow comes to sap the strength and take away the buoyancy. And then man's inhumanity to his brothers and sisters. These are some of the limitations added by sin and ever increasing.

Our Fellow.

Now, Jesus was human; truly naturally human, God's human, and then more because of the conditions He found. The love act of creation brought with it self-imposed limitations to God. And now the love act of saving brings still more. God made man in His own image. In His humanity Jesus was in the image of God, even as we are. Adam was an unfallen man. Jesus was that and more, a tested and now matured unfallen man, and by the law of growth ever growing more. Adam was an innocent, unfallen man up to the temptation. Jesus was a virtuous unfallen man. The test with Him changed innocence to virtue.

In His experiences, His works, His temptations, His struggles, His victories, Jesus was clearly human. In His ability to read men's thoughts and know their lives without finding out by ordinary means, His knowledge ahead of coming events, His knowledge of and control over nature, He clearly was more than the human we know. Yet until we know more than we seem to now of the proper powers of an unfallen man matured and growing in the use and control of those powers we cannot draw here any line between human and divine. But the whole presumption is in favor of believing that in all of this Jesus was simply exercising the proper human powers which with Him were not hurt by sin but ever increasing in use.

Jesus insisted on living a simple true human life, dependent upon God and upon others. He struck the key-note of this at the start in the wilderness. Everything He taught He put through the test of use. He was what He taught. As a man He has gone through all He calls us to. He blazed the way into every thicket and woods, and then stands ahead, softly, clearly calling, "Come along after Me."

He was a normal man, God's pattern unchanged. All the powers of body and mind and spirit were developed naturally and held in poise, no lack of development, no over development of some part, no misuse of any power, nor abuse, but each part perfectly fitting in and working naturally with each other part.

He experienced all the proper limitations of human life. He needed food and sleep and rest and needed to give His body proper thought and care. He was under the human limitations regarding space and material construction. He got from one place to another by the slow process of using His strength or joining it with nature or that of a beast. He entered a building through an opening as we do. Both of these are in sharp contrast with the conditions after the resurrection. His stock of knowledge came by the law of increase, the natural way; some, and then more, and the more gaining more yet.

But there's more than this. There's a bit of a pull inside as one thinks of this, as though Jesus in His humanity after all is on a level above us, hardly alongside giving us a hand. Ah! there is more. He had fellowship with us in the limitation that sin has brought. He shared the experiences that men were actually having. He knew the bitterness of having one's life plan utterly broken and something else--a rude jagged something else--thrust in its place. But the bitterness of the experience never got into His spirit or affected His conduct. The emergency He found down here wrought by sin affected Him.

He was hungry sometimes without food at hand to satisfy His hunger. He always showed a peculiar tender sympathy with hungry people. He couldn't bear the sight of the hungry crowds without food. He would go out of His way any time to feed a man. He makes the caring for hungry folks a test question for the judgment time. There's a great note of sympathy here with the race. Every night hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters go hungry to bed. It was said at one time that the death rate of London rises and falls with the price of bread. If true when said it probably is more intensely true to-day. Jesus ate the bread of the poor, the coarsest, plainest bread. But then, that may have been simply His good common sense.

Jesus got tired. Could there be a closer touch! He fell asleep on a pillow in the stern of the boat one day crossing the lake. And the sleep was like that of a very tired man, so sound that the wild storm did not wake Him up. It was His tiredness that made Him wait at Jacob's well while the disciples push on to the village to get food. He wouldn't have asked them to go if they were too tired, too. Was He ever too tired--over-tired--like we get? I wonder. There was the temptation to be so ever tugging. Probably not, for He was wise, and had good self-control, and then He trusted His Father. Yet He probably went to the full limit of what was wise. Certainly He lived a strenuous life those three and a half years.

Jesus knew the pinch of poverty. He was the eldest in a large family, with the father probably dead, and so likely was the chief breadwinner, earning for Himself and for the others a living by His trade. He was the village carpenter up in Nazareth, an obscure country village. I do not mean abject grinding poverty, of course. That cannot exist with frugality and honest toil. But the pinch of constant management, rigid economy, counting the coins carefully, studying to make both ends meet, and needing to stretch a bit to get them together. It is not unlikely that house rent was one of the items.

The ceaselessness of His labors those public years suggests habits of industry acquired during those long Nazareth years. He was used to working hard and being kept busy. It would seem that He had the care of His mother after the home was broken up. At the very end He makes provision for her. John understands the allusion and takes her to his own home. He must have thought a great deal of John to trust His mother to his care. Could there be finer evidence of friendship than giving His friend John such a trust?

Jesus was a homeless man. Forced from the home village by His fellow townsmen, for those busy years he had no quiet home spot of His own to rest in. And He felt it. How He would have enjoyed a home of His own, with His mother in it with him! No more pathetic word comes from His lips than that touching His homelessness--foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of Man hath neither hole nor nest, burrowed or built, in ground or tree.

And Jesus knew the sharp discipline of waiting. He knew what it meant to be going a commonplace, humdrum, tread-mill round while the fires are burning within for something else. He knew, and forever cast a sweet soft halo over all such labor as men call drudgery, which never was such to Him because of the fine spirit breathed into it. Drudgery, commonplaceness is in the spirit, not the work. Nothing could be commonplace or humdrum when done by One with such an uncommon spirit.

There's More of God Since Jesus Went Back.

I have tried to think of Him coming into young manhood in that Nazareth home. He is twenty now, with a daily round something like this: up at dawn likely--He was ever an early riser--chores about the place, the cow, maybe, and the kindling and fuel for the day, helping to care for the younger children, then off down the narrow street, with a cheery word to passers-by, to the little low-ceilinged carpenter shop, for--eight hours?--more likely ten or twelve. Then back in the twilight; chores again, the evening meal, helping the children of the home in difficulties that have arisen to fill their day's small horizon, a bit of quiet talk with His mother about family matters, maybe, then likely off to the hilltop to look out at the stars and talk with the Father; then back again, slipping quietly into the bedroom, sharing sleeping space in the bed with a brother. And then the sweet rest of a laboring man until the gray dawn broke again.

And that not for one day, every day, a year of days--years. He's twenty-five now, feeling the thews of his strength; twenty-seven, twenty-nine, still the old daily round. Did no temptation come those years to chafe a bit and fret and wonder and yearn after the great outside world? Who that knows such a life, and knows the tempter, thinks he missed those years, and their subtle opportunity? Who that knows Jesus thinks that He missed such an opportunity to hallow forever, fragantly hallow, home, with its unceasing round of detail, and to cushion, too, its every detail with a sweet strong spirit? Who thinks He missed that chance of fellowship with the great crowd of His race of brothers?

"In the shop of Nazareth

Pungent cedar haunts the breath.

'Tis a low Eastern room,

Windowless, touched with gloom.

Workman's bench and simple tools

Line the walls. Chests and stools,

Yoke of ox, and shaft of plow,

Finished by the Carpenter

Lie about the pavement now.

"In the room the Craftsman stands,

Stands and reaches out His hands.

"Let the shadows veil His face

If you must, and dimly trace

His workman's tunic, girt with bands

At His waist. But His hands--

Let the light play on them;

Marks of toil lay on them.

Paint with passion and with care

Every old scar showing there

Where a tool slipped and hurt;

Show each callous; be alert

For each deep line of toil.

Show the soil

Of the pitch; and the strength

Grip of helve gives at length.

"When night comes, and I turn

From my shop where I earn

Daily bread, let me see

Those hard hands; know that He

Shared my lot, every bit:

Was a man, every whit.

"Could I fear such a hand

Stretched toward me? Misunderstand

Or mistrust? Doubt that He

Meets me full in sympathy?

"Carpenter' hard like Thine

Is this hand--this of mine;

I reach out, gripping Thee,

Son of Man, close to me,

Close and fast, fearlessly."6

To-day up yonder on the throne there's a Man--kin to us, bone of our bone, heart of our heart, toil of our toil. He--knows. If you'll listen very quietly, you'll hear His voice reaching clear down to you saying, with a softness that thrills, "Steady--steady--I know it all. I'm watching and feeling and helping. Up yonder is the hill top and the glory sun and the wondrous air. Steady a bit. Stay up with Me on the glory side of your cloud, though your feet scratch the clay." Surely there's more of God since Jesus went back!

The Divine Jesus

Jehovah--Jesus.

Of all the men who knew Jesus intimately John stands first and highest. He misunderstood for a time. He failed to understand, as did the others. He did not approach the keen insight into Jesus' being and purpose that Mary of Bethany did. But, then, she was a woman. He was a man. Other things being equal (though they almost never are), woman has keener insight into the spirit and motives than has man. But John stood closer to Jesus than any other. Jesus drew him closer. And that speaks volumes for John's fineness of spirit. He alone of the inner twelve did not forsake in the hardest hour that Thursday night, but went in "with Jesus." How grateful must Jesus have been for the presence of His sympathetic friend that black night, with its long intense shadows!

Now John writes about Jesus. And what this closest friend says will be of intensest interest to all lovers of Jesus. But it is of even intenser interest to note keenly when John writes. He waits until the end. He gets the longest range on Jesus that his lengthening years will permit. Distance is essential to perspective. You must get far away from a big thing to see it. The bigger the thing to be seen, the longer the distance needed for good perspective. John shows his early appreciation of the size of Jesus by waiting so long. When all his mental faculties are most matured, when any heat of mere youthful attachment has cooled off, when the eye of the spirit is clearest and keenest, when the facts through long sifting have fallen into right place and relation in the whole circle of truth, then the old man settles to his loving task.

He had been looking long. His perspective has steadily lengthened with the looking years. The object has been getting bigger and bigger to his eyes. He is getting off as far as possible within his earthly span. At last he feels that he has approximately gotten the range. And with the deep glow of his heart gleaming up out of his eyes, he picks up a freshly-sharpened quill to tell folk about Jesus.

As he starts in he takes a fresh, long, earnest look. And so he writes, like a portrait artist working, with his eyes ever gazing at the vision of that glorified Face. He seems to say to himself, "How shall I--how can I ever begin to tell them--about Him!" Then with a master's skill he sets out to find the simplest words he can find, put together in the simplest sentences he can make, so simple folk everywhere may read and get something of a glimpse of this Jesus, whose glory is filling his eyes and flooding his face and spilling out all over the pages as he writes.

He is seeing back so far that he is getting beyond human reach. So he fastens his line into the farthest of the far-reaches of human knowledge, the creation, and then flings the line a bit farther back yet. He must use a human word, if human folk are to understand. So he says "beginning." "In the beginning," the beginningless beginning, away back of the Genesis beginning, the earliest known to man.

Then he recalls the tremendous fact that when, in the later beginning man knew about, the worlds came into existence, it was by a word being spoken, a creative, outspoken word. The power that created things revealed itself in a few simple words. Then he searches into the depths of language for the richest word he knew to express thought outspoken. And taking that word he uses it as a name for this One of whom he is trying to tell. The scholars seem unable to sound the depths of the word that John in his own language uses. It means this, and beyond that, it means this, deeper yet, and then this. And then all of these together, and more. That is John's word. "In the beginning was the Word."

Then with a few swift touches of his pen he says, "This was Jesus before He came among men, the man Jesus whom we know." In the earliest beginning the whole heart and thought of God toward man was outspoken in a person. This person, this outspeaking God, it was He who later became known to us as Jesus. Jesus, away back before the farthest reach of our human knowledge, was God speaking out of His inner heart to us. This Jesus is God speaking out His innermost heart to man. Did you ever long to hear God speak? Look at Jesus. He's God's speech. This One was with God. He was God. It was He who spoke things into being, that creative span of time. Only through Him could anything come into being. All life was in Him, and this life was man's light. It is He who came into our midst, shining in the darkness that could neither take Him in nor hold Him down from shining out.

Every now and then as he writes John's heart seems near the breaking point, and a sob shakes his pen a bit, as it comes over him all anew, and almost overcomes him, how this wondrous Jesus, this throbbing heart of God, was treated. Listen: "He came to His own possessions, and they who were His--own--kinsfolk--and the quiver of John's heart-sob seems to make the type move on the page--His own kinsfolk received him not into their homes, but left Him outside in the cold night; but--a glimpse of that glorious Face steadies him again--as many as did receive Him, whether His own kinsfolk or not, to them He gave the right to become kinsfolk of God, the oldest family of all."

God's Spokesman.

John has a way of reaching away back, and then by a swift use of pen coming quickly to his own time, and then he keeps swinging back over the ground he has been over, but each time with some added touch, like the true artist he is.

John's statement, "the world was made by Him," takes one back at once to the early Genesis chapters. There the creating One, who, by a word, brings things into existence is called God. And then, that we may identify Him, is called by a name, Jehovah. The creator is God named Jehovah. And this Jehovah, John says, was the One who afterward became a Man, and pitched His tent among men. And as one reads the old chapters through, this is the God, the Jehovah, who appears in varying ways to these Old Testament men, one after another. He talked and walked and worked with Adam in completing the work of creation, and then broken-hearted led him out of the forfeited garden.

Then to make his standpoint unmistakably plain to every one, before starting in on the witness borne by the herald, he makes a summary. All that he has been saying he now sums up in these tremendous words, "God--no one ever yet has seen; the only begotten God,7 in the bosom of the Father, this One has been the spokesman." In what He was, and in what He did as well as in what He said, He hath been the spokesman. Here is a difference made between the Father God, whom no one has seen, and the only begotten God, who has been telling the Father out.

Now God revealed Himself to men in the Old Testament times. Repeatedly in the Old Testament it distinctly speaks of men seeing God in varying ways and talking with Him. Adam walked with Him, and Enoch, and Noah. Abraham had a vision, and talked with the three men whose spokesman speaks as God. Isaac has a night-vision and Jacob a dream and a night meeting with a mysterious wrestler. Moses spoke with Him "face to face" and "mouth to mouth," and is said to have seen His "form." Yet after that first forty days on the mount when Moses hungrily asks for more, He is told that no man could endure the sight of that great glory of God's face. And he is put in to a cleft of the rock, and God's hand put over the opening (in the simple language of the record), and then only the hinder part of God passing is seen, while the wondrous voice speaks. Yet the impression so made upon Moses

far exceeds anything previous and completely overawes and melts him down. The elders of Israel "saw God," yet the most distinct impression of anything seen is of the beautiful pavement under His feet. Isaiah's most definite impression, when the great vision came to him, was of a train of glory, seraphim and smoke and a voice. Ezekiel has rare power in detailed description. He has overpowering visions of the "glory of Jehovah." Yet the most definite that he can make the description is a storm gathering, a cloud, a fire, a centre spot of brightness, a clearness as of amber, and four very unusual living creatures.

These men "saw" God. He "appeared" to them. Evidently that means many different things, yet the word is always honestly used. It never means as we gaze into another man's face. But always there is that profound impression of having been in God's own presence. They met Him. They saw Him. They heard His voice.

Yet John says here, "God--no one ever yet at any time has seen; the only begotten God, in the bosom of the Father--this One has been the spokesman." Clearly John, sweeping the whole range of past time, means this: they saw Him whom we call Jesus. Jesus is Jehovah, the only begotten God. To all these men the only begotten God was the spokesman of the Father.

Sometimes it was a voice that came with softness but unmistakable clearness to the inner spirit of man, a soundless voice. Sometimes in a dream, a more realistic vision of the night or of the day time; again, in the form of a man, thus foreshadowing the future great coming. This One who came to them in various ways, this Jehovah has come to men as Jesus. This is John's statement. This is the setting of His gospel. The setting becomes a part of the interpretation of what the gospel contains. It explains what this that follows meant to John.

Is it surprising that John's Gospel has been pitched upon as the critics' chief battle-field of the New Testament? Battle-field is a good word. The fire has been thick and fast, needle-guns--sharp needles--and machine-guns--Gatling guns and rattling--but no smokeless powder. The cloud of smoke of a beautiful scholarly gray tinge has quite filled the air. Men have been swinging away from a man, the Man to a book. But no critic's delicately shaded and shadowing cloud of either dust or smoke, or both, can hide away the Man. He's too tall and big. The simple hearted man who will step aside from the smoke and noise to the shade of a quiet tree, or the quiet of some corner, with this marvellous bit of manuscript from John's pen for his keen, Spirit-cleared eye, will be enraptured to find a Man, the Man, the God-Man.

Whom Moses Saw.

What did Jesus say about Himself? The critics of the world, including the skeptical, infidel critics, seem to agree fully and easily on a few things about this Jesus on whose dissection they have expended so much time and strength. They agree that in the purity of His life, the moral power of His character, the wisdom of His teachings, the rare poise of His conduct and judgment, the influence exerted upon men, He clear over-tops the whole race. Surely His own opinion of Himself is well worth having. And it is easy to get, and tremendous when gotten. It fits into John's conception with unlabored simplicity and naturalness.

According, then, to Jesus' own words, He had come down out of heaven, and, by and by, would go back again to where He was before. He had come on an errand for the Father down into the world, and when the errand was finished He would go back home to the Father again. He had seen the Father, and He was the only one who had ever seen Him. He was the Son of God in a sense that nobody else was, a begotten Son, and the only Son who had been begotten. Therefore He naturally called God His Father, and not only that, but His own Father, making Himself equal with the Father.

This statement it was that swung the leaders over from silent contempt to aggression in their treatment of Him. The Jews understood this perfectly and instantly. They refused to accept it. Reckoning it blasphemous, they attempted to stone Him. They were partly right. If it were not true, it was blasphemous, and their law required stoning. Yet they were fools in their thought, and not even keen fools. For no blasphemous man could have revealed the character and moral glory that Jesus constantly revealed before their eyes.

Then follows one of John's exquisite reports of Jesus' words in reply. In it run side by side the essential unity of spirit between Father and Son, with the absolute life-giving or creative power invested in the Son. A sweet, loving, loyal unity of spirit is between the two. It is love unity. There can be none closer. In this unity the Son has full control of life for all the race of men, and final adjustment of the character wrought out by each. At His word all who have gone down under death's touch will come into life again, and each by the character he has developed will go by a moral gravitation to his natural place.

And then follows the bringing forward of witnesses, John, the Father, the works, the Scriptures, and the climax is reached in the one whose name was ever on their lips--Moses. And this is the significant reference to Moses, "He wrote of Me." Sift into that phrase a bit. It cannot mean, he wrote of me in the sacrifices provided for with such minute care. For Moses clearly had had no such thought. It might be supposed to mean that unconsciously to himself there was, in his writings about the sacrifices, that which would be seen later to refer to Jesus in His dying. And there is the resemblance in purity between Moses' sacrifices and the great Sacrifice. Yet where there is so much plain meaning lying out on the face of the thing, this obscure meaning may be dropped or checked in as an incidental. There is a single allusion in Moses' writing to a prophet coming like himself.

But Moses is ever absorbed in writing about a wondrous One who revealed Himself to him in the burning bush, the pillar of cloud and fire, the little peaked tent off by itself on the outskirts of the camp, and the soft distinct voice. There was the One with whom He had twice spent forty days in the mount, and whose great glory left its traces in his face. Ever Moses is writing of this wondrous Jehovah. Jesus quietly says, "He wrote of Me."

Another time He said, "I and the Father are one," provoking another stoning. Invisibly holding back their hands He said, "The Father is in Me, and I in the Father," and again they are aroused. In connection with this word "Father," it may be noted that the Old Testament has been called the "dispensation of the Father." But this seems scarcely accurate. God speaking, appearing there is spoken of as Father very rarely, and then chiefly in the great promises of the future glory. The common name for Him is Jehovah. Jesus practically gives us the name Father for God. He constantly refers to God as His Father. It was He who taught us to call God Father. He never speaks of Jehovah, but of the Father. His language in this always fits in perfectly, as of course it would, with John's standpoint, that Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament times. A little later Jesus says, "Moses gave you not the manna from heaven, but--my Father giveth (note the change in the time element of the word)--giveth you the true bread." It is a sort of broken, readjusted sentence, as though He was going to say who it was that gave the manna, and then changes to speaking of the Father and the present. He does not say who it was that did give that manna. It is plain enough from John's standpoint what he understands Jesus to mean as he puts the incident into his story.

Jesus is God Wooing Man.

During the autumn before His death, while in attendance on one of the Jerusalem feasts, the leaders are boasting of their direct descent from Abraham, and attacking Jesus. On their part the quarrel of words gets very bitter. They ask sharply, "Who do you pretend to be? Nobody can be as great as Abraham; yet your words suggest that you think you are." Then came from Jesus' lips the words, spoken in all probability very quietly, "Your father Abraham exulted that he might see my day, and he saw it, and was glad." It is a tremendous statement, staggering to one who has not yet grasped it.

In attempting to find its meaning, some of our writing friends have supposed it means that, after Abraham's death, when he was in the other world, at the time of Jesus being on the earth, he was conscious of Jesus having come and was glad. But this hardly seems likely, else it would read, "He sees, and is glad." The seeing and gladness were both in a day gone by. Others have supposed that it refers to the scene on Moriah's top, when the ram used as a sacrifice instead of Isaac enabled Abraham to see ahead by faith, not actually, the coming One. But this, too, seems a bit far-fetched, because Abraham was surprised by the occurrences of that day. He fully expected to sacrifice his son, apparently, so there could be no exultant looking forward to that day for him. And deeper yet, the coming One was not expected to be a sacrifice, but a king.

The natural meaning seems to lie back in Abraham's own life. Abraham was Israel's link with the idolatrous heathen, as well as the beginning of the new life away from idolatry. He grew up among an idolatrous people, yet in his heart there was a yearning for the true God. Back in his old home there came to him one day the definite inner voice to cut loose from these people, his own dear kinsfolk, and go out to a strange unknown land, with what seemed an indefinite goal, and there would come to him a vision of the true God.

It was a radical step for a man of seventy-five years to take. He was living among his own kinsfolk. His nest was feathered. It meant leaving a certainty for an uncertainty. It meant breaking his habit of life, a very hard thing to do, and starting out on a wandering roaming life. Not unlikely his neighbors thought it a queer thing, a wild goose chase, this going off to a strange land in response to a call of God that he might see a vision of the true God. Decidedly visionary. But the old man was clear about the voice. The fire burned within to know God, the real true God. All else counted as nothing against that. He would see God. And a warming glow filled his heart and shone in his eyes and kept him steady during the break, the good-byes, the start away, the journeying among strangers. Into the strange land he came, and pitched his tent. And--one night--in his tent--among these strange Canaanites, there came the promised vision. "Jehovah appeared unto Abraham," and tied up there anew with him the promise made back in his native land. This seems to be the simple explanation of these words about Abraham. "He exulted that he might see my day. He saw ... and was glad."

With a contemptuous curl of the lip instantly they come back with: "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" More quietly than ever, with the calmness of conscious truth, come those tremendous words, emphasized with the strongest phrase He ever used, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was born, I am." The common version omits "born," and so the sharp contrast is not made clear. Abraham was born. He came into existence. Jesus says "I am." That "I am" is meant to mean absolute existence. An eternal now without beginning or ending. Their Jewish ears are instantly caught by that short sentence. Jesus was identifying Himself with the One who uttered that sentence out of the burning bush! Again stones for speech. Again the invisible power holds their feverish impotent hands. That "I am" explains the meaning of the expression "my day." It stretches it out backward beyond Abraham's day. It lengthens it infinitely at both ends.

This is Jesus' point of view, this marvellous Jesus. He is the Jehovah in Genesis' first chapters. It is with Him that Adam broke tryst that day, and with Him that Enoch renewed the tryst after such a long wait, and took those long walks. It is His voice and presence in the black topped, flaming mount that awed the Israel crowd so. His voice it was that won and impressed so winsomely the man waiting in the hand-covered cleft of the rock that early morning, and long after, that other rugged, footsore man, standing with face covered in the mouth of a cave. Isaiah saw His glory that memorable day in the temple. It was He who rode upon the storm before Ezekiel's wondering eyes and who walks with His faithful ones on the seven times heated coals, and reveals to Daniel's opened ears the vision of his people's future. Jehovah--He comes as Jesus. Jesus--He is Jehovah. No sending of messengers for this great work of winning His darling back to the original image and mastery and dominion will do for our God. He comes Himself. Jesus is God coming down to woo man up to Himself again.

The Winsome Jesus

The Face of Jesus

Jesus was God letting man see the beauty of His face and listen to the music of His voice, and feel the irresistibly gentle drawing power of His presence. Jesus was very winsome. He drew men. He said that if He were lifted up He would draw men. They who heard that could believe it, for He drew them before He was lifted up. He drew the crowds. Yet many a leader that has drawn the crowds has led them astray. He drew men--men of strongest mentality, scholarly, cultured, thoughtful men, and every other sort. Yet men have often been befooled in their leaders. He drew women. Here is a great test. Men may be deceived in a man. But woman, true strong woman, pure womanly woman, because of her keen discernment into spirit and motive, cannot be deceived, when true to her inner conviction.

He drew children. This was the highest test. The child, fresh from the hand of God, before it is appreciably hurt by parents or surroundings, is drawn to the pure and good. They are repelled by selfishness and badness. They draw out the best. They are drawn only by the true and beautiful and good. That is, in the early years, before the warping of a selfish, sinful atmosphere has hurt them. This is an infallible test. This told most His winsomeness.

Bad people were drawn to Him. That is, bad in their lives. Rarely indeed is a human so wholly bad as to be untouched by true goodness, by sincere love. Here is the touchstone of service. He touched that spot in the lowest, and by His presence increased the hunger of their hearts for purity and for sympathy up toward purity.

His enemies--a very small group, but in a position of great power, holding the national reins--His enemies were drawn to Him, by a drawing they fought, but could not resist. They admired Him while hating Him. His presence disturbed because it accused the opposite in them. They recognized the purity, the love, the rugged honesty, the keen insight, the poised wisdom, and they hated Him the more intensely, so committed were they in the practice of their lives to the opposite of these. Jesus was very winsome. It was to be expected of Him, for He was a man unstained and unhurt by sin. Man, God's sort of man, is winsome, for he is in the image of God. It was to be expected of Him, for He was God. And God is winsome. Did men but know God they would throw themselves at His feet in the utter abandon of strong love.

Jesus' personality must have been very attractive, because of the man living within. He found expression in it. The spirit of a man finds expression in his presence. He goes out to others through his presence. From what we know of Jesus His presence must have had something distinctly impressive about it. He would have a gently majestic bearing. He walked upright like the king He was. He had the true dignity that is not conscious of its dignity.

Jesus must have had a remarkable face. One's presence centers peculiarly in the face. It comes to bear the imprint of the man inside. A man cannot keep out of his face the dominant spirit of his life. The sin of the life, the purity of the heart, is always stamped on the face. The finer the nature the plainer is the facial index. That is the reason women's faces reveal the inner spirit more than men's. Quite apart from His features, the inner spirit of Jesus must have made His face beautiful with a manly fascinating beauty. Yet in all likelihood those features were finely chiselled and the skin clear, and with the transfiguring power of the spirit within, that face must have been a great face in its beauty.

Jesus' face must have borne the impress of His experiences. The early home experience would bring out patience and simplicity and sympathy. Those forty days in the wilderness would intensify the purity and strength, and bring evidence of struggle and of victory. The Jordan waters, with the voice of approval, would deepen the mark of peace. Constant contact with the sick and suffering would bring out yet more the tenderness and gentleness. Constant teaching of undisciplined folk would intensify the patience. Constant contact with sin would intensify the unflinching sternness of purity. The Transfiguration would deepen the spirituality, with possibly an added glory-touch. Gethsemane wrote in the deep lines of intense suffering, with the intangible spirituality of victory and great peace. And, at the last, Calvary with its scars marked in a beauty of suffering and of spirituality refined beyond description. A marvellous face that human face of Jesus.

Indeed, the glory of God was in the face of Jesus as He walked quietly among men. Looking into that face men saw God. That simple, gentle, patient, pure face, with its deep peace and victory and yet its yearning--that was God looking out into men's faces.

The Music of God in the Voice of Jesus.

The face of that face was the eye. The eye is the soul of the face. Through it the man looks out and shows himself. Through it we look in and see him. Where the fires of self-ambition burn the flame is always in the eye. Only where those fires are out or never lit does the real beauty-light of God come into the eye. Great leaders have ever been noted for their eyes, before whose glance strong men have cowed and quailed, or eagerly coveted the privilege of service.

Those must have been matchless eyes of Jesus, keen, kindly, flashing out blinding lightning, sending out softest subdued light. The Nazareth mob couldn't stand the look of those eyes, nor the bolder Jerusalem mob reaching down for the stones, nor the deputation sent to arrest, nor even the reckless Roman soldiers at the garden gate. The disciples who were closest sometimes followed him afraid and amazed because of the look of those eyes. And yet the little children put their arms around His neck, and looked up fearlessly and lovingly. And the crowd listened by the hour with their eyes fastened upon His.

The voice of Jesus must have been music itself. It speaks once of His singing a hymn. How we would all have loved to hear Him sing! But that voice was music at all times, whether in song or speech. Low, modulated, rhythmic, gentle, rich, resonant--wondrous music. Those who have heard Spurgeon and Gladstone almost always speak of the rare musical quality in their voices. So, and more would it be with this Jesus. It has been said that the personality reveals itself in the speech. It reveals itself yet more, and more subtly, in the sound of the voice. The power or weakness of a man is felt in the sound of his voice. The blind have unusual skill in reading character in the voice. Were we wiser we could read men's character much more quickly in the voice. Children and animals do. The voice that stilled the waves and spoke forgiveness of sins, that drew the babes, and talked out to thousands at once, must have been full of sweetest music and thrilling with richest power.

Jesus made much of the personal touch, another means whereby a man's power goes out to his fellow. He believed in close personal touch. He drew men into close contact with Himself. He promised that when gone Himself, Somebody else was to come, and live as He had done right with us in close touch. He touched those whom He helped, regardless of conditions. There was power in His touch. Some of Himself went out through that touch of His. The fever, the weakness, the disease fled before His touch.

Is it to be wondered at that everywhere, in the temple yards, on Judean hills or Galilean, by the blue waters of Galilee or the brown waters of the Jordan, men crowded to Jesus? They couldn't help it. He was irresistible in His presence, His face, His eye, and voice and touch. It could not be otherwise. He was God on a wooing errand after man. Moses' request of Jehovah, "Show me ... Thy glory," was being granted now to the whole nation. In Jesus they were gazing on the glory of God. A veiled glory? Yes, much veiled, doubtless, yet not as much as when Moses looked and listened.

Jesus draws men. All classes, all nations, all peoples are drawn to Him. It is remarkable how all classes in Christendom quote Jesus, and claim Him as the leader of their own particular views. They will selfishly claim Him who will not follow Him.

Jesus draws us. Let us each yield to His drawing. That is the sincerest homage and honor we can give Him. That will draw out in us to fullest measure the original God-likeness obscured by sin.

Let us lift this drawing Jesus up by our lives of loyalty to Him, by our modest, earnest testimony for Him, by our unselfish love for the men He loved so. Up let us lift Him before men's eyes; up on the cross, transfigured by His love; up on the Olives' Mount, Victor over all the forces of sin and death; up at the Father's right hand in glory, waiting the fullness of time for the completion of His plan for man.

Thou great winsome God, we have seen Thy beauty in this Jesus. We have heard Thy music in His voice. We feel the strong pull upon our hearts and wills of Thy presence in Him. We cannot resist Thee if we would. We would not if we could. We are coming a-running to keep tryst with Thee under the tree of life thou art planting down in our midst. We will throw ourselves at Thy feet in the utter abandon of our strongest love, Thy volunteer slaves.

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