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   Chapter 3 No.3

Quiet Talks on John's Gospel By S. D. Gordon Characters: 121490

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


The Wooing Lover

(John i. 1-18.)

In His Own Image.

Love gives. It gives freely and without stint, yet always thoughtfully.

It gives itself out, its very life. This is its life, to give its life.

It lives most by giving most. So it comes into fullness of life.

So it gets. A thing of life, in its own image, comes walking eagerly with outstretched arms to its embrace. It gives that it may get. Yet the giving is the greater. It brings most joy.

This is the very essence of life, this giving creating spirit. It is everywhere, in lower life and higher and highest, wherever the touch of God has come. The sun gives itself out in life and light and warmth. And out to greet it comes a bit of itself-the fine form and sweet fragrance of the rose, the tender blade of grass, the unfolding green of the leaf, the wealth of the soil, the song of the bird and the grateful answer of all nature.

The hen sits long patient days on her nest. And forth comes cheeping life in her own image, answering the call of her mothering spirit. The mother-bird in the nest in the crotch of the tree gives her life day by day in brooding love. And her wee nestling offspring, in her own image, answers with glad increase of strength and growth.

Father and mother of our human kind give of their very life that new life may come. And under the overshadowing touch of an unseen Presence comes a new life made in their image, and in His who broods unseen over all three. And over the life wrecked by sin broods the Spirit of God. And out through the doorway of an opening will, comes a new creature of winsome life in the very image of that brooding Spirit of God.

This is the holy commonplace of all life. It is the touch of God. It is everywhere about us, and beneath and above. The father-mother Spirit of God broods over all our common life. And when things go wrong, He broods a bit closer and tenderer. He meets every need of the life He has created. And He meets it in the same way, by giving Himself.

And there's always the response. The fragrance of the rose answers the sun. The pipped shell brings the longed-for answer to the gladdened mother-bird. The ever wondrous babe-eyes give unspeakable answer to the yearning of father and mother heart. The heart of man leaps at the call of his God.

This makes quite clear the wondrous response men gave Jesus when He walked among us. Jesus was God coming a bit closer in His brooding love to mend a break and restore a blurred image. And men answered Him. They couldn't help it. How they came! They didn't understand Him, but they felt Him. They couldn't resist the tender, tremendous pull upon their hearts of His mere presence.

And Jesus drew man into the closest touch of intimate friendship. The long-range way of doing things never suited Him. And it doesn't. He didn't keep man at arm's length. And He doesn't. And then because they were friends, He and they, they were eager to serve, and willing even to suffer, to walk a red-marked roadway for Him they loved.

The Gospel According to-You.

Among all those who felt and answered the call of Jesus was one called John, John the disciple. Jesus drew John close. John came close. John lived close. John came early and he stayed late. He stayed to the very end, into the evening glow of life. And all his long life he was under the tender holy spell of Jesus' presence. He was swayed by the Jesus-passion. Always burning, he was yet never consumed; only the alloy burned up and burned out, himself refined to the quality of life called eternal.

Then John came to the end of his long life. And he knew he would be slipping the tether of life and going out and up and in to the real thing of life. And I think John was a bit troubled. Not because he was going to die. This never troubles the man who knows Jesus. The Jesus-touch overcomes the natural twinges of death. But he was troubled a bit in spirit for a little by the thought that he would not be on earth any longer to talk to people about Jesus. And to John this was the one thing worth while. This was the life-passion.

And so I think John prayed about it a bit. For this is what he did. He said to himself, "I will write a book. I'll make it a little book, so busy people can quickly read it. I'll pick out the simplest words I know so common folks everywhere that don't have dictionaries can easily understand. And I'll make them into the shortest simplest sentences I can so they can quickly get my story of Jesus." And so John wrote his little book. And we call it the story of Jesus according to John, or, as we commonly say the Gospel-the God-story-according to John.

And all this is a simple bit of a parable. It is a parable in action. Jesus is brooding over us, giving Himself, warmly wooing us. He woos us into personal friendship with Himself. And then He asks that each of us shall write a gospel. This is the Gospel according to John; and these others according to Luke and Mark and Matthew. He means that there shall be the gospel according to-you. What is your name? put it in there. Then you get the Master's plan. There is to be the gospel according to Charles and Robert and George, and Mary and Elizabeth and Margaret.

And you say, "Write a gospel? I couldn't do that. You don't mean that. That's just a bit of preaching." No, it isn't preaching. It's so. I do not mean to write with a common pen of steel or gold; nor on just common paper of rags or wood-pulp. But I do mean-He means-that you shall write with the pen of your daily life. And that you shall write on the paper of the lives of those you're touching and living with every day.

Clearly, He meant, and He means, that you and I shall live such simple unselfish lovable Jesus-touched lives, in just the daily commonplace round of life, that those we live with shall know the whole story of Jesus' love and life; His love burned out for us till there were no ashes, and His life poured out for us till not a red drop was left unspilled.

Are you writing your gospel? Is your life spelling out this simple wondrous God-story? I can find out, though, of course, I shall not. What I mean is this,-the crowd knows. The folks that touch you every day, they know. This old Bible was never printed so much as to-day, nor issued more numerously. And-thoughtfully-it was never read less by the common crowd on the common street of life than to-day.

That doesn't mean that the crowd doesn't read what it supposes to be religious literature. It does. I wish we church folk read our religious literature as faithfully as this crowd I speak of reads its. It is reading the gospel according to you, and reading it daily, and closely, and faithfully, and remembering what it reads, and being shaped by it.

This Bible I have here is bound in-I think it is called sealskin. I tried to get the best wearing binding I could. But I've discovered that there's a better binding than this. The best binding for the Gospel is shoe-leather. The old Gospel of the Son of God is at its best as it is being tramped out on the common street of life. Its truths stand out clearest as they're walked out. Its love comes warmest, its power is most resistless as it comes to you in the common give-and-take of daily touch in home and shop and street. Are you writing your copy of the Gospel?

You know that sometimes scholars have found some precious manuscripts in old monasteries. They have gone into some old, grey, stone monkery in the Near East, and they have run across old manuscripts hidden away in some dark cell, covered with dust and with rubbish, perhaps. With much tact and diplomacy they have at length managed to get possession of the coveted manuscript. And they have been fairly delighted to find that they have gotten hold of a remnant, a very precious remnant, of one of these Gospels. In just this way much invaluable light has been gotten that made possible these precious revised versions.

I wonder if your gospel-the one you're writing with your life-is just a remnant, a ragged remnant. And perhaps there's a good bit of dusting necessary, and removing of rubbish, to get even at what there is there. And some of the shy hungry hearts that touch you and me need to use quite a bit of unconscious diplomacy perhaps to get even as much as they do. I wonder. The crowd knows. It could throw a good bit of light here. How much of this old Jesus-story are you really living!

Of course, there's a special touch of inspiration in these four Gospels. The Holy Spirit brooded over these men in a special way as they wrote. That is true. These are the standard Gospels. We would never know the blessed story but for these four Spirit-breathed little books. But it is also true that that same Holy Spirit will guide you in the writing of your version of the Gospel.

These four Gospels are different from each other. The colouring of Luke's warm personality, and of his physician habit of thought is in his Gospel very plainly. And so it is with each one of these Gospels. And, even so, there will be the colouring of your personality, your habit of thought, the distinct tinge of the experience you have been through, in the gospel you write with the pen of your life, and bind up in the shoe-leather of your daily round.

But through all of this there will be the simple, subtle, but very real, atmosphere of the Holy Spirit, helping you make the story plain and full, and helping people to understand that story as it is lived, as they never can simply by hearing it told with tongues or read through eyes.

Are you writing your gospel? Is your daily life spelling out the life and love of Jesus, that life that was poured out till none was left, that love that was burned out till even the ashes were burned up, too? This is the Master's plan. And practically it is the crowd's only chance.

God in Human Garb.

Now I want to have you turn with me to the opening lines of John's Gospel. There are not many of these opening lines. The whole story is a short one. These lines at the beginning are like an etching, there are the fewest touches of pen on paper, of black ink on white surface. But the few lines are put in so simply and skilfully that they make an exquisite picture. It's the picture of God coming in human garb as a wooing Lover.

I think it might be best perhaps if I might simply give you a sort of free reading of these opening lines, with a word of comment or illustration to try to make the meaning simpler. It will be a putting of John's words into the simple every-day colloquial speech that we English-speaking people use. John used very simple language in his own telling of the story in his mother-tongue. And it may help if we try to do the same.

You will quickly see how very simple this free translation will be. Yet, let me say, that though homely and simple it will be strictly accurate to what John is thinking and saying in his own native speech. I mean of course, so far as I can find out just what he is thinking and saying.

Let us turn then to John's Gospel, at its beginning. And it will help very much if we keep our Bibles open as we talk and read together.

Listen: in the beginning there was a wondrous One. He was the mind of God thinking out to man. He was the heart of God throbbing love out to man's heart. He was the face of God looking into man's face. He was the voice of God, soft and low, clear and distinct, speaking into man's ears. He was the hand of God, strong and tender, reaching down to take man by the hand and lead him back to the old trysting-place under the tree of life, down by the river of water of life.

He was the person of God wearing a human coat and human shoes, hand-pegged, walking in freely amongst us that we might get our tangled up ideas about God and ourselves and about life untangled, straightened out. He was God Himself wrapped up in human form coming close that we might get acquainted with Him all over again.

This is part of the meaning of the little five-lettered word in his own tongue that John chooses and uses, at the first here, as a new name for Him who was commonly called Jesus. It was because of our ears that he used the new word. If he had said "Jesus" at once, they would have said "Oh! yes, we know about Him." And at once their ears would have gone shut to the thing that John is saying.

For they didn't know. And we don't. We know words. The thing, the real thing, we know so little. So John uses a new word at the first, and so floods in new light. And then we come to see whom he is talking about. It's a bit of the diplomacy of God so as to get in through dulled ears and truth-hardened minds down in to the heart.

Nature always seems eager to meet a defect. It seems to hurry eagerly forward to overcome defects and difficulties. The blind man has more acute hearing and a more delicate sense of feel. The deaf man's eyes grow quicker to watch faces and movements and so learn what his ears fail to tell him. The lame man leans more on other muscles, and they answer with greater strength to meet the defect of the weaker muscles.

The bat has shunned the light so long through so many bat-generations that it has become blind, but it has remarkable ears, and nature has grown for it an abnormal sense of touch, and a peculiar sensitiveness even where there is no contact, so that it avoids obstacles in flying with a skill that seems uncanny, incredulous.

I remember in Cincinnati one night, sitting on the platform of a public meeting by the side of a widely known Christian worker and speaker who was blind. As various men spoke he quietly made brief comments to me,-" He doesn't strike fire." And then, "He doesn't touch them." And then, "Ah! he's got them; that's it; now they're burning." And it was exactly so as he said. I sat fascinated as I watched the crowd and heard his comments. The sense of discerning what was going on in another way than by sight had been grown in him by the very necessity of his blindness. Defect in one sense was overcome by nature, by increase in another sense.

When Queen Victoria was in residence in Scotland at Balmoral it was her kindly custom to present the various clergymen who preached in the Castle chapel with a photograph marked with her autograph. When George Matheson, the famous blind preacher, came she showed the fine thoughtful tact for which she was famous. Clearly an autographed photograph would not mean much in itself to a blind man. So the Queen had a miniature bust-statue made and presented to him as her acknowledgment of his service. And so where his eyes failed to let him see, his sense of touch would carry to his mind and heart the fine features of the gracious sovereign he was so glad to serve.

Jesus was God coming in such a way that we could know Him by the feel. We had gone blind to His face. We couldn't read His signature plainly autographed by His own hand on the blue above and the brown below. But when Jesus came men knew God by the feel. They didn't understand Jesus. But the sore hungry crowds reached out groping trembling fingers, and they knew Him. They began to get acquainted with their gracious Sovereign.

All this gives the simple clue to this word "Word" which John uses as a new name for Jesus. Man had grown deaf to the music of God's voice, blind to the beauty of His face, slow-hearted to the pleading of His presence. His hand was touching us but we didn't feel it. So He came in a new way, in a very homely close-up way and walked down our street into our own doors that we might be caught by the beauty of His face, and thrilled by the music of His voice, and thralled by the spell of His presence.

God at His Best.

John goes on: and this wondrous One was with God. There were two of them. And the two were together. They were companions, they were friends, fellows together. And this One was God. Each was the same as the other. This is the same One who was in the later creative beginning with God. It was through this One that all things were made. And, of all things that have been made, not any thing was made without Him.

You remember that John's Gospel and Genesis begin in the same way,-"in the beginning." But John's "in the beginning," the first one, is not the same as the Genesis "in the beginning." John's is the beginning before there was any beginning. It is the beginning before they had begun making calendars on the earth, because there wasn't any earth yet to make calendars on. Then this second time the phrase is used John comes to the later creative beginning with which Genesis opens. This is what John is saying here.

"In Him was life." Out of Him came life. Out of Him comes life. There was no life, there is none, except what was in this One, and what came, and comes out from Him all the time. How patient God is! There walks a man down the street. He leaves God out of his life. He may remember Him so far as to use His name blasphemously to punctuate and emphasize what he is saying. Yonder walks a woman in the shadow of the street at night. And her whole life is spent walking in the dark shadow of the street of life. And her whole life is a blasphemy against her personality, and against the God who gave her that precious sacred personality.

Take these two as extreme illustrations. There is life there; life of the body, of the mind, life of the human spirit. Listen softly, all the life there is there, is coming out all the time from this One of whom John is talking. It is not given once as a thing to be taken and stored. It is being given. It is coming constantly with each breath, from this wondrous One. This is what John is saying here.

How patient God is! Only we don't know what patience is. We know the word, the label put on the outside. We don't know the thing, except sometimes in very smallest part. For patience is love at its best. Patience is God at His strongest and tenderest and best.

I think likely when we get up yonder, we'll stop one another on the golden streets. There'll be a hand put out, gripping the other hard. And we'll look into each other's eyes with our eyes big. And we'll say with breaking voices, "How patient God was with us down there on the earth, down there in London and New York."

In Him was life. Out of His hand and heart is coming to us all the time all we are and all we have. We may leave God practically out. So many of us do. But He never leaves us out. The creating, sustaining touch of His Hand is ever upon each of us, upon all the world.

Though He cannot do all for us He would except as we gladly come and let Him. What He is giving us is so much. It's our all. Yet it is the smaller part. There's the fuller part. This is the whole drive of John's story, this fuller part. Out of Him Jesus, into us will come the newer, the better, the abundant quality of life, if He may have His way.

And John adds,-"and the life was the light of men." He was what we have. He gives Himself; not things, but a person. With God everything is personal. We men go to the impersonal so much, or we try to. We do our best at it. We have a great genius for organization, especially in this western half of the earth.

As I came back from a four years' absence from my own country, I was instantly conscious of a change. Either my ears were changed or things about me were. I think likely both. But the wheels were going faster than ever. There were more wheels, and their whir seemed never out of ear-shot. Commercial wheels, and educational, philanthropic and religious, political and humanitarian, thicker and faster than ever, driving all day, and with almost no night there.

And the whole attempt is to make the machine do the thing with as little dependence as possible on the human element, even though the human element was never emphasized more. Contradictory? Yet there it is. We men go to the _im_personal. Yet deep down in our hearts we hunger for the human touch, the warm personal touch. This after all is the thing. We all feel that. Yet the whole crowding of life's action is to crowd it out.

But with God everything is personal. The life is the light of men. What He is in Himself-that is what He gives. And this is all the light and life we ever have. Men make botany. God makes flowers breathing their freshening fragrance noiselessly up into your face. Man makes astronomy. God makes the stars, shaking their firelight out of the blue down into your wondering eyes on a clear moonless night. Man makes theology. And theology has its place, when it's kept in its place. God gives us Jesus.

I don't know much about botany. My knowledge of astronomy is very limited. And the more I read of theology, whether Western or Eastern, Latin Church or Greek, the first Seven Councils or the later ones, the more I stand perplexed. It's a thing fearsomely and wonderfully manufactured, this theology. But I frankly confess to a great fondness for flowers, and for stars, and a love for Jesus that deepens ever more in reverential awe and in tenderness and grateful devotion. The life was the light of men. He Himself is all that we have. We go to things. We reckon worth and wealth by things. He gives Himself. And He asks, not things, but one's self.

Packing Most in Least.

And John goes quietly on with his great simple story: "and the light shineth in the darkness," John has a way of packing much in little. Here he packs four thousand years into three English letters. For he has been back in that creative Genesis week. And now with one long stride he puts his foot down in the days when Jesus walks among us as a man. Forty centuries, by the common reckoning, packed into three letters e-t-h. Rather a skilful bit of packing that. Yet it is not unusual. It is characteristic both of John and of the One that guides John's pen. When He is allowed to have free sway the Holy Spirit packs much in little.

That rugged old Hebrew prophet of fire and storm, Elijah, standing in the grey dawn, in the mouth of an Arabian cave, had the whole of a new God-a God of tender gentle love-packed into an exquisite sound of gentle stillness, that smote so subtly on his ear, and completely melted and changed this man of rock and thunder. It's a new man that turns his face north again. The new God that had compacted Himself anew inside the ruggedly faithful old man is revealed in the prophet's successor. This is the new spirit, so unlike the old Elijah, that comes as a birth-right heritage upon young Elisha. Great packing work that.

That fine-grained young university fellow on the Damascus road, driving hard in pursuit of his earnest purpose, had the whole of a God, a new God to him, packed into a single flash of blinding light out of the upper blue. He had the whole of a new plan, an utterly changed plan for his life, packed into a single sentence spoken into his amazed ears as he lies in the dust.

And if this Holy Spirit may have His way-a big if? Yes: yet not too big to be gotten rid of at once: God puts in the if's, that we may get the strength of choosing. We put them out, if we do. If He may have His way He'll pack-listen quietly, with your heart-He'll pack the whole of a Jesus inside you and me. Much in little! Most in least! And the more we let Him in, the bigger that "most" prints itself to our eyes, and the more that "least" dwindles down to the disappearing point.

God gives us His own self in Jesus. Jesus comes to live inside of us. He doesn't give us things, but Himself. We talk about salvation. There's something better-a Saviour. We talk about help in trouble. There's something immensely more-a Friend, alongside, close up. We talk about healing-sometimes, not so much these days; the subject is so much confused. There's something much better-a Healer, living within, whose presence means healing and health for body and spirit.

Then John says, "the light shineth in the darkness." This is God's way of treating darkness. There are two ways of treating darkness, man's and God's. Man's way is to attack the darkness. Suppose this hall where we are were quite dark, all shuttered up, and suppose we were new on the earth, and not familiar with darkness. We want to hold a meeting. But how shall we get rid of this strange darkness that has come down over everything? Let's each of us get a bucket or pail or basin, and take some of the darkness out. So we'll get rid of it, and its inconvenience.

And if the suggestion were made seriously there might be talk of putting the suggestor in a certain sort of institution for the safety of the community. Yet this is the way we go at the other darkness, the worse moral darkness.

God's way is quite different; indeed just the exact reverse let the light shine. The darkness can't stand the light. If the hall were quite dark, and I scratched only a parlour-match, instantly as the little flame broke out of the end of the stick some of the darkness would go. It's surprising how much would go, and how quickly. The darkness can't stand the light. It flees like a hunted hare before a pack of hounds.

There may be times when action must betaken by a community against certain forms of evil, so damnable, and so strongly entrenched, and so threatening to the purity of home and young and of all. But note keenly that this is incidental. It is immensely important at times, but it is distinctly secondary. The great simple plan of God is this: let the light shine. The darkness flees like a whipped cur, tail tightly curled down and in, before the real thing of light.

Let me ask you a question. Come up a bit closer and listen quietly, for this is tremendously serious. And it's the quietest spoken word that reaches the inner cockles of the heart. Listen: is it a bit dark down where you live? Morally dark? Spiritually? How about that? in commercial circles and social and fraternal, in church and home and city and neighbourhood. Is it a bit dark? Or, have I found the Garden of Eden at last before the serpent entered?

Because if it be a bit dark, softly, please, let me say it very quietly, for it may sound critical, and I would not have that for anything. We are talking only to help. Though sometimes the truth itself does have a merciless edge. If it be a bit dark does it not suggest that the light has not been shining as it was meant to? For where the light shines the darkness goes.

For, you see, this is still God's plan for treating darkness. It is meant to be true to-day of each of us,-"the light shineth in the darkness." Of course, we are not the light. He is the Light. But we are the light-holders. I carry the Light of the world around inside of me. And so do you, if you do. It is not because of the "me," of course, but because of the great patience and faithfulness of Him who is the Light. A very rickety cheap lantern may carry a clear light, and the man in the ditch find good footing in the road again.

You and I are meant to be the human lanterns carrying the Light, and letting it shine clearly fully out. And you know when some one else is providing the light the chief thing about the lantern is that the glass of the lantern be kept dean and clear so the light within can get freely out. The great thing is that we shall live clean transparent lives so the Light within may shine clearly out. We may live unselfish clean Christly lives, by His great grace. And through that kind of lives, the Light itself shines out, and shines out most, and most clearly.

Over at the mouth of the Hudson, where I call it home, there are some strange things seen. Sometimes the glass of this human lantern gets smoky, badly smoked. And sometimes it even gets cobwebby, rather thickly covered up. And even this has been known to happen up there,-it'll seem very strange to you people doubtless-this; they write finely phrased essays on the delicate shading of grey in the smoke on the glass of the human lantern.

They meet together and listen to essays, in rarely polished English, on the exquisite lace-like tracery of the cobwebs on the glass of the human lantern. But look! Hold your heart still and look! There's the crowd in the road in the dark, struggling, jostling, stumbling, and falling into the ditch at the side of the road, ditched and badly mired, because the light hasn't gotten to them. The Light's there. It's burning itself out in passionate eagerness to help. But the human lanterns are in bad shape.

"Rhetoric!" do you say? I wish it were. I wish with my heart it were. Look at the crowds for yourself. There they go down the street, pell-mell, bewildered, blinded, some of them by will-o'-the-wisp lights, ditched and mired many of them. The thing is only too terribly true.

Our Lord's great plan, bearing the stamp of its divinity in its sheer human simplicity, is this: we who know Jesus are to live Him. We're to let the whole of a Jesus, crucified, risen, living, shine out of the whole of our lives.

Is it a bit dark down where you are? Let the Light shine. Let the clear sweet steady Jesus-light shine out through your true clean quiet Jesus-swayed and Jesus-controlled life. Then the darkness must go. It can't stand the Light. It can't withstand the purity and insistence of its clear steady shining. And the darkness will go: slowly, reluctantly, angrily, doggedly, making hideous growling noises sometimes, raising the dust sometimes, but it will go. It must go before the Light. The Light's resistless. This is our Lord's wondrous plan through His own, and His irresistible plan for the crowd, and His plan against the prince of darkness.

The Heart-road to the Head.

Then John goes on to say, "the darkness apprehended it not." The old common version says "comprehended"; the revisions, both English and American, say "apprehended." Both are rather large words, larger in English than John would use. John loved to use simple talk. Yet there's help even in these English words. Comprehend is a mental word. It means to take hold of with your mind; to understand. Apprehend is a physical word. It means to take hold of with your hand.

You can't comprehend Jesus. That is just the simple plain fact. You may have a fine mind. It may be well schooled and trained. You may have dug into all the books on the subject, English and German and the few French. You may have spent a lifetime at it. But at the end there is immensely more of Jesus that you don't understand than the part that you do understand. You've touched the smaller part only, just the edges. You cannot take Jesus in with your mind simply. The one is too big and the other too limited for that particular process.

But, listen with your heart, you can apprehend Him. You can take hold of Him. There isn't one of us here, however poorly equipped mentally and in training, and too busy with life's common duties to get much time for reading, not one of us, who may not reach out your hand, the hand of your heart, the hand of your life, the hand of your simple childlike trust-if you're great enough in simplicity to be childlike, to be natural, not one of us, but may reach out the hand and take in all there is of Jesus.

And the striking thing to mark is this, that we don't really begin to comprehend until we apprehend. Only as we take Him into heart and life can we really understand. It's as if the heat in the heart made by His presence there loosens up the grey juices of your brain, and it begins to work freely and clearly.

Of course, this is a commonplace in the educational world. It is well understood there that no student does his best work, no matter what that work may be, in science or philosophy or in mathematics or in laboratorial research, his mind cannot do its best, or be at its best, until his heart has been kindled by some noble passion. The key to the life is in the heart, that is the emotions and purposes tied together. The approach to the mind is through the heart. The fire of pure emotion and of noble purpose burning together, works out through the mind into the life. This is nature's order.

But what John is saying here, put into as simple language as he would use, is this: "the darkness wouldn't let the light in, and couldn't shut it out, and couldn't dull the brightness of its shining." It tried. It tried first at Bethlehem. The first spilling of blood came there. There was the shedding of blood at both ends of Jesus' career, and innocent blood each time. It tried at the Nazareth precipice, and in the spirit-racking wilderness. It tried by stones, then in Gethsemane, then at Calvary.

And there it seemed to have succeeded. At last the light was shut in and down; the door was shut and barred and bolted. And I suppose there was great glee in the headquarters of darkness. But the Third Morning came. And the bars of darkness were broken, as a woman breaks the sewing-cotton at the end of the seam. The Light could not be held down by darkness. It broke out more brightly than ever. The darkness couldn't shut the light out. And it can't.

Let the light shine. Let it shine out through the clear clean glass of an unselfish, Jesus-cleansed Jesus-fired life lived for Him in the commonplace round, and the shut-away corner. And the darkness will go. The darkness cannot shut out the light, nor keep it down, nor resist the gentle resistless power of its soft clear flooding. Let the Light shine down in that corner where you are. And the darkness, darkness that can be felt, and is felt so sorely deep down in your spirit, in its uncanny Egyptian blackness, that darkness will break, and more, clear, and go, go, go, till it's clear gone.

And so ends John's first great paragraph. It is so tremendous in its simplicity that, Greek-like, men stumble over its simple tremendousness. Away back in the beginning God revealed Himself in making a home for man, and in bringing the man, made in His own image, to his home. And then when the damp unwholesome darkness came stealing in swamping the home and man He came Himself, flooding in the soft clear pure light of His presence, to free man from the darkness and woo him out into the light.

Tarshish or Nineveh?

Then John goes on into his second paragraph. "There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John." Why? Because man was in the dark. He sent a man to help a man. He used a man to reach a man. He always does. Run clear through this old Book of God, and then clear through that other Book of God-the book of life, and note that this is God's habit. He, Himself, uses the path He had made for human feet. With greatest reverence let it be said that God must use a human pathway for His feet.

Even when He would redeem a world He came, He must needs come, as a Man, one of ourselves. He touches men through men. The pathway of His helping feet is always a common human pathway. And, will you mark keenly that the highest level any life ever reaches, or can reach, is this: to be a pathway for the feet of a wooing winning God.

And this is still true. It is meant to be true to-day that there came a man, sent from God, whose name is-your name. You put in your own name in that sentence, then you get God's plan for you. For as surely as this particular John of the desert and of the plain living, and the burning speech, was sent by God, so surely is every man of us a man sent by God on some particular errand. And the greatest achievement of life is to find and fit into the plan of God for one's life. This is the only great thing one can do. Anything else is merely labelled "great." And that label washes off. This is the one thing worth while.

The bother is we don't always get the verbs, the action words, of that sentence straight. John was a man sent from God. And he came. All men are sent But they don't all come, some go; go their own way. There was a man sent from God whose name was Jonah. But he didn't come. He went. He was sent to Nineveh on the extreme east. He went towards Tarshish on the extreme west; just the opposite direction. Every man is headed either for Nineveh or Tarshish, God's way or his own. Which way are you headed?

Some of us go to Tarshish religiously. We go our own way, and sing hymns and pray, to make it seem right and keep from hearing the inner voice. We hold meetings at the boat-wharf, while waiting for the Tarshish ship to lift anchor. We have services in the steerage and second-class and distribute tracts and New Testaments; but all the time we're headed for Tarshish; our way, not God's. It won't do simply to do good. We must do God's will. Find that and fit into it.

The meetings and tracts are only good but they ought to be on the train to Nineveh, and in Nineveh where God's sent you. Are you berthed on the boat for Tarshish? or have you a seat engaged on the train for Nineveh? going your own way? or God's? John was sent and he came. You and I are sent. Are we coming or going? coming God's way? or, going our own?

Living Martyrs.

This true-hearted burning man of the deserts came for a witness. Here we strike one of John's great words. You remember the three things that witness means? that you know something; that you tell what you know; and that you tell it most with your life. And telling it with your life means, not only by the way you live, but, too, even though the telling of it may cost you your life. It came to mean all of that with this witness.

It came to mean that with a new fullness of meaning, a peculiar significance, to the great Witness, of whom John told. This was the very throbbing heart of the wooing errand. This explains the tenderness and tenacity of the Lover in His wooing in the midst of intensest opposition, and in spite of it.

The opposition brought about the terrific grouping of circumstances which the great Lover-witness used as the tremendous climax of both wooing and witnessing. No one doubts the reality of Jesus' witness to the Father's love before men. And no one, who has had any touch at all with Him, doubts the tremendous pull upon one's heart of such a wooing appeal as that Calvary climax of witnessing made, and makes.

And this, mark it keenly, is still the plan. "The-same-came-for-witness" is meant to be true of each follower of the Christ. This is to be the dominant underchording of all our lives. This is to be the never-absent motive gripping us, and our possessions and our plans. The rest is incidental in a true life.

It may be a "rest" that takes most of the waking hours with most of us, most of our strength and thought. But there's an undercurrent in every life. And the undercurrent is the controlling current. It makes us what we really are. It may be quite different from the upper current controlled by the outer necessities of circumstances. And with the true Jesus-man this is the undercurrent, this thing of witnessing.

Do you know something of Jesus? Do you know the cleansing of His blood? Do you know the music of His peace in your heart? Do you know a bit of the subtle fragrance of His presence? Do you know the power of His Name when temptations come, when the road gets slippery, and your feet go out from under you-almost. Then His Name, its power, and you hold steady. Do you know something about such things?

Then tell it. This is the plan-telling. It's a Gospel of telling. Tell it with your lips tactfully, gently, boldly, earnestly. But tell it far more, and most with your life. Let what you are, when you're not thinking about this sort of thing, let that tell it. That's the greatest telling, the best.

And, softly, now, when you get to the end of telling what you know, listen quietly, don't go to digging into books for something to tell your class or the meeting or the crowd. Don't do that. Books have their place, good books, but it's always a sharply secondary place, or third, or lower down yet. Poor crowd that must be fed on retailed books worked over! Don't do that. Know more. Know Jesus better. Trust Him more fully. Risk more on following where He clearly leads. Then you can tell more and better.

Sometimes I'm asked, "How can I have more faith?" Well, not by thinking about your faith. Not by books or definitions chiefly, however they may help some. I can tell you how: Follow where the Master's quiet voice is clearly calling. Go where it is plain to you that that pierced hand is leading.

"Ah! but the way is a bit narrow," you think. "And it's steep. There are sharp-edged stones under foot. And those bushes are growing rank on both sides narrowing the path. And thorns scratch and hurt and sting. This other road where I am now-this is a good Christian road. My Christian brothers are here. I'd rather stay here."

And so you stay. You don't say "no" to the calling voice. You simply act "no." No wonder you get confused and tangled. It's only in the path of following clear leading that there comes sweetest peace, with no nagging doubts and mental confusion. There only will you have more faith, know more of Him, touch with whom is the realest faith. And so only will the witness be told out to the crowd on the street of your life, of the power and satisfying peace of this Jesus.

This is the witnessing we're sent to do. And the crowds crowd to listen, when it's given. This is the way the Witness did. He followed the clear Father-voice, though the road led straight across the regular roads through thorn hedges and thick underbrush. Should not the servant tread it still?

The word that John uses here underneath our English word witness is the word from which our English word martyr comes. And martyr has come to mean one who gives his life clear out in a violent way for the truth he believes. But, do you know, that is easy. "Easy?" You say, "Surely not, you're certainly wrong there." No, you are right. It is not easy. To face a storm of lead, or feel the sharp-edged blade, or yield to the eating flame,-that is never easy.

But this is what I mean. There's the heroic in it, and that helps. You brace yourself for it. The terrible crisis comes. You pull together and pray and resolutely, desperately, face it. A little while, and it's over. You've been true in the sharp crisis. You have taken a place with the noble army of martyrs. And we who hear of it have a martyr's halo about your head.

But there's something immensely harder to do. Without making a whit less than it is the splendid courage of martyrdom, there's something that takes immensely more courage, and a deeper longer-seasoned heroism, and that is to be a living martyr, to bear the simple true witness tactfully but clearly, when it takes the very life of your life to do it, though it doesn't take your bodily life in a violent way.

You know they don't martyr people these days for their Christian faith. At least not in the western half of the earth, the Christian hemisphere. No, that's quite behind the calendar. That's rather crude, quite behind the cultured advanced Christian progress of our day. Our Christian civilization has gone long strides beyond that. We have grown much more refined. Now we kill them socially. Many a one who would live true to the Jesus-ideals in daily life in a simple sane way finds certain social doors shut and carefully barred.

We kill them commercially now. The man who will quietly hew to the Jesus-line in business is quite apt to find his income reduced. The bulk of business shrinks. The thermometer is run down below the living point. We kill men by frost now. The blockade system is skilfully used; isolation and insulation from certain circles. We are much more refined.

The great need to-day is of living witnesses to the Christ in home, and social circle, in the street, and in the market-place.

"So he died for his faith; that is fine,

More than the most of us do.

But stay, can yon add to that line

That he lived for it, too?

"It's easy to die. Men have died

For a wish or a whim-

From bravado or passion or pride.

Was it hard for him?

"But to live: every day to live out

All the truth that he dreamt,

While his friends met his conduct with doubt,

And the world with contempt.

"Was it thus that he plodded ahead,

Never turning aside?

Then we'll talk of the life that he led"

Even more than the death that he died.

The Forgotten Preacher.

With a simplicity in sticking to his main point, John goes quietly on: "that he might be a witness of the light." That's rather interesting. It was of the light he was to bear witness; not of himself. It was not the technical accuracy of his work, not its scholarliness and skill that absorbed him, but that the crowd got the light. Rather striking that, when you break away from the atmosphere round about, and think into it a bit.

Here's a man walking down a country road. It's a hot day. The road's dusty. He gets a bit weary and thirsty. He comes across a bit of a spring by the side of the road. Clear cool water it is. And some one has thoughtfully left a tin-cup on a ledge of rock near by. And the man gratefully drinks and goes on his way refreshed. He quite forgets the tin-cup.

Sometimes the tin-cup seems to require much attention, up in the corner of the world where my tent is pitched. It has to be handled very carefully and considerately if one is to get what possible drops of water it may contain. The human tin-cup seems to bulk very big in the drinking process, sometimes, in my corner of the planet. It is silver-plated sometimes; just common tin under the plating. There's some fine engraving on the silver-plating, noble sentiment, deftly expressed, and done in the engraver's best style. But the water is apt to be scanty, the drops rather few, in this sort of tin-cup. It's a bit droughty.

And sometimes even this has been known to occur: they have associations of these human tin-cups for self-admiration and other cultural purposes. And they have highly satisfactory meetings. But meanwhile, ah! look! hold still your heart, and look here. There's the crowd on the street, hot dusty street, exhausted, actually fainting for want of water, just good plain water of life. But there's none to be had; only tin-cups! John was eager to have men get a good drink. He was content as he watched them drink, and their eyes lighten. He was discontent and restless with anything else or less.

Do you remember the greatest compliment ever paid John, John the Herald? John was a great preacher. He had great drawing power. To-day we commonly go where people are hoping they'll stay while we talk to them. But John did otherwise. He went down to the Jordan bottoms, where the spirit ventilation was better, and called the people to him. And they came. They came from all over the nation, of every class. Literally thousands gathered to hear John. He had great drawing power.

And then something happened. Here is John to-day talking earnestly to great crowds down by the river-road. And here he is again to-morrow; but where are the crowds? John has lost his crowd. Same pulpit out in the open air, same preacher, same simple intense message burning in his heart, but-no congregation! The crowd's gone. Poor John! You must feel pretty bad. It's hard enough to fail, but how much harder after succeeding. Poor John, I'm so sorry for you.

But if you get close enough to John to see into his eye you quit talking like that. And if you get near enough to hear you find your sympathy is not needed. For John's eye is ablaze with a tender light, and the sound of an inner heart music reaches your ear as you get near him. And if you follow, as you instinctively do, the line of the light in his eye you quickly look down the road.

Oh! There's John's crowd. _They're listening to Jesus._John's crowd has left him for his Master. And the forgotten preacher is the finest evidence of the faithfulness of the preacher. The crowd's getting the water, sweet cool refreshing water of life, direct from the fountain. They've clean forgotten the faithful common tin-cup. And John's so glad. John came that he might bear witness of the light. And he did. And the crowd heard. And they flocked to the light.

Here's a man preaching. And the people are listening. The benediction is pronounced. And they go out. And as they move slowly out they're talking, always talking. We don't seem yet to have demitted our privilege of talking after service. Here are two. Listen to them. "Isn't he a great preacher? so scholarly, so eloquent, so polished; and all those classical allusions. I didn't understand half he said; he certainly is a great preacher. We're very fortunate in such a man."

And the preacher, whoever he be, may know this for a bit of the certainty that occasionally will sift in. He may be a scholar. I wouldn't question it. And a polished orator. I wouldn't question that. But in the main thing, the one thing he's for, as a Jesus-witness, he is a splendid scholarly polished failure. Men are talking about him.

They've forgotten his Master, if indeed-ah, yes, if indeed he have a Master! He has a Saviour, let us earnestly hope, and willingly believe. But a Master! One that sweeps and sways his mind and culture and life like the strong wind sweeps the thin young saplings in the storm-clearly he knows nothing of that. Men are talking of him.

And here's another talking a bit It may be just a simple homely talk. Or he may likewise be scholarly and eloquent. A man should bring his best. The old classic is beaten oil for the lamps of the sanctuary. But there's the soft burning fire of the real thing in his message. And the people feel it. The air seems a-thrill with its quiet tensity. And the last amen is said. And again they go out.

And here are two walking down the road together, and as they come to the cross-street, one says to his companion, "Excuse me, please, I have to go down this way." And the "have-to" is the have-to of an intense desire to get off alone. And as he goes down the side street he's talking, but-to himself. Listen to him: "I'm not the man I ought to be, I wonder if Jesus is really like he said. I wonder if the thing's really so. I believe-yes, I really think I'll risk it. My life isn't like it should be. I'll risk trying this Jesus-way. I'll do it."

The man's clean forgotten the speaker. Oh, yes, he remembers the tone of the voice, and the look of the face, but indistinctly, far away. He's face-to-face with Jesus! And the forgotten speaker is the finest evidence of the faithfulness of his speaking. He is holding up the light. And men run into the light. They've clean forgot the little tin candlestick, they are so taken up with the light it holds.

The One Thing to Aim At.

And John keeps driving in on the point in his mind: "that all might believe through Him"; that they might listen, stop to think, agree as to the thing being believable, then trust it; then trust Him, the Light, risk something, risk, themselves to Him, then love, love with a passionate devotion. This was John's objective. It was the bull's-eye of his target never out of his keen Spirit-opened eye. Nothing else figured in.

This is the thing in all our living and serving and doing and giving, that men may know Jesus to the trusting, risking, loving point, the glad point. Everything that we can bring of gold and learning and labour and skill is precious, it is as purest gold, if it lead men into heart-touch with Jesus. And it clean misses the mark if it does less.

Who would be content to give a Belgian or Polish starveling a bare bit of bread, and a lonely stick of wood, and a rag of cloth. Bite and stick and cloth are good, but it's a meal and a fire, and some clothing, the man wants. And you have both ready at hand. Things are good, provided by money and skill and research and painstaking efforts. They do good. But it's Jesus men need. It's the warm touch that lets Him fully in with all of His human sympathy and all of His God-power, that's what they need.

Given the sun and quickly come warmth and food and shelter, health and vigour and increase of life. Given Jesus, and the warm touch with Him, in His simple fullness, just as He is, and surely and not slowly, there come flooding in all the rest of an abundant life, physical and mental and of the spirit.

John "was not the light." He was only the candlestick. And he was content to be that. He was a good candlestick. The light was held up. It could shine out. How grateful the crowd was. The road had been so dark. It is a bad thing when light and candlestick change places. The crowd seems to get the two confused sometimes. We get to thinking that the candlestick is the light, and the light is-lost sight of. We gather about the candlestick. It'll surely lead the way out through the dark night into day. It's such a good candlestick, so highly polished. And sometimes the human candlestick itself gets things a bit mixed. It thinks, then it feels, then it knows, with a peculiar quality of self-assertive certainty, that after all it is the light that lighteth every one that is so blessed as to come within the radius of its shining. And brass does take a high polish, and makes an attractive appearance. It does send out a sparkle and radiance if only it is somewhere within range of some real light, patient enough to keep on shining in the dark, regardless of non-appreciation or misrepresentation or misunderstanding.

Is it any wonder the road is so full of people wandering in the night gathered about candlesticks? Is it surprising that the ditches are so full of men and candlesticks mixed up and mired up together? Yet it is always heart-breaking. There may be talent and training of the highest and best, and scholarship and culture, eloquence and skill, institutions and philanthropies. And there is so much of these. And these are good in themselves, and of priceless practical worth when seen and held in their right relation to the thing.

But it needs to be said often and earnestly: these are not the light. They are given to point men better to the Light. They're road-signs, index-fingers. And they are seen at their best when they point to the Light so clearly that the crowd quite forgets them in hastening to the Light they point out. They serve their true purpose in being so forgotten. They are still serving and serving best even while forgotten.

The Real Thing of Light.

And John goes on to intensify yet more what he is thinking and saying: there was the true light, the real thing of light. They were bothered, in John's old age when he is writing, with false lights, make-pretend lights, that led people astray. Every generation seems to have been so bothered and confused. And even our own doesn't seem to have entirely escaped the subtle contagion. The ground is a bit swampy in places, boggy.

Low-lying land runs to bog and swamp. And the air gets thick with heavy vapours. And strange will-of-the-wisp lights form out of the foul damp gasses, and they flit about in the gloom this way and that. And people are led astray by them deeper into swamp and bog. It's surprising to find how many, that grow up in well-lit neighbourhoods, wander off after the swamp lights, and even follow them so contentedly. That's partly due, without doubt, to the false lights borrowing so much of the mere outer incidentals from the true. And they succeed in producing a make-up that easily deceives the unwary and untaught.

There's a teaching to-day, for instance, that magnifies bodily healing.

The name of Christ is freely used. And the old Book of God freely

quoted. And men are really healed. There can be no question of that.

There are sufficient facts at hand to make that incontestably clear.

But bodily healing does not necessarily argue divine power. There are results secured through the operation of unfamiliar mental powers that seem miraculous. And clearly there are devilish miracles as well as divine. Miracles simply reveal a supernatural power, that is, a power above the ordinary workings of nature. Then one must apply a touchstone, a test, to learn what that power is.

It is striking that in this teaching I speak of now there is never mention of the atoning blood of Christ. And this is the sure touchstone by which to detect the real thing of light and the make-believe. The outstanding thing in the life of Christ is His death, and the tremendous meaning which His own teaching put into that fact of His death.

There is none of the red tinge to this make-believe light. It has the unwholesome unnatural tingeing of swamp lights. And those who are healed through this teaching will find themselves in a bondage the more terrible because so subtle. And only the power of the blood of Christ can ever break that bondage.

There was the real thing of light. Here is the real thing of light. There's a distinct tingeing of red in it. It's the only light. It only is the light. Every other is a make-pretend light, however subtle its imitations and reflections: it will lead only into swamp and bog and ditch and worse.

And then John goes on to add a very simple bit that has not always been quite understood in its simplicity. There was the real thing of light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. There is a little group of varied readings into the English here, found in the margin of the various revisions. But the central statement remains the same. Whether John is saying that the light, that lighteth every man, was now coming down into the world in a closer way. Or, that every man is lighted as he comes into the world, the chief thing being told is the same. Every man in the world is lighted by this Light.

Through nature, the nightly twinklers in the wondrous blue overhead, the unfailing freshness of the green out of the brown under foot; through the never-ceasing wonders of these bodies of ours, so awesomely and skilfully made, and kept going; through that clear quiet inner voice that does speak in every human heart amidst all the noises of earth and of passion; through these the light is shining, noiselessly, softly, endlessly, by day and night.

It is the same identical light that John is telling us of here that so shines in upon every man, and always has. There is no light but His. His later name is Jesus. From the first, and everywhere still, it is the light that shines from Him that lights men. He was with the Father in the beginning. He acted for the Father in that creation week. He gave and sustained all life of every sort everywhere, and does, though only a third of us know His later, nearer, newer Name-Jesus.

But the light was obscured, terribly beclouded and bedimmed, hindered by earth-fogs, and swampy clouds rising up, until we are apt to think there was no light, and is none; only darkness. Then He came closer, and yet closer. He came in nearer form so as to get the light closer, and let it shine through fog and cloud, for the sake of the befogged, beswamped crowd.

And then-ah! hold your heart still-then He let the Light-holder, the great human Lantern, be broken, utterly broken, that so the light might flash out through broken lantern in its sweet soft wondrous clearness into our blinded blinking eyes, and show us the real way back home. It was in that breaking that it got that wondrous exquisite red tingeing that becomes the unfailing hall-mark, the unmistakable evidence of the real thing of light.

And it's only as men know of this latest coming of the light, this tremendous tragic Jesus-coming of the light, that they can come into the full light. That's the reason He came in the way He did. That's the reason when He gets possession of us there's the passion to take the full Jesus-light out to every one. And this passion burns in us and through us, and ours, and sweeps all in the sweep of its tender holy flame. In this way every man may be fully lit, and so in following the Jesus-light he shall not walk in the darkness where he has been, but in the sweet clear light of life.

Looking for Recognition.

Then we come to the first of John's heart-breaking sentences. John had a hard time writing his Gospel. He was not simply writing a book. That might have been fairly easy for him with his personal knowledge and all the facts so familiar. But he is telling about his dearest Friend. And the telling makes his heart throb harder, and his eyes fill up, and the writing look dim to him, as he tries to put the words down.

Listen: He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world recognized, or rather acknowledged, Him not. It was His world, His child, His creation. He had made it. But it fai

led to acknowledge Him. He came walking down the street of life. He met the world going the other way. And He gave it a warm good-morning greeting. And it knew Him full well. It knew who He was. But it turned its face aside and walked by with no return greeting. This is what John is saying. It recognized, it acknowledged Him not.

You mothers know the glad hour that comes in a mother's life when her little babe of the wee weeks knows her for the first time. She's busy bathing or nursing, or, she's just hovering over the precious morsel of humanity when there's really nothing needing to be done. And the babe's eyes catch her own and a smile comes, the first smile of recognition. And the mother-heart gives a glad leap. She murmurs to herself, "Oh, baby knows me!"

And when the father comes home that night she greets him with, "Baby knew me to-day." And there's a soft bell-like tender ring in her voice that vibrates on the strings of his heart. And all the folks within range are advised of the day's event. And the mother clear forgets all the sharp-cutting pain back there just a little before, in this joy, this look of recognition.

I knew of a woman. She was of an old family, of unusual native gift, and rare accomplishment. And her babe came. And the time came when ordinarily there would be that first sweet look of recognition, but-it didn't come. There was a defect; something not as it should be. And you mothers all know how she felt, yes, and you true fathers, too. She was heart-broken. And she turned aside from all the busy round of activity in which she had been the natural leader. And for years she devoted all her splendid talents, her strength and time, to just one thing, a very simple thing; only this,-getting a look of glad recognition out of two babe-eyes.

He looked into the face of His child, His world, for the look of recognition. But there was none. And He was heart-broken. And He devoted all His strength and time, Himself, for those human years to-what? One thing, just one thing, a very simple thing, only this: to getting a look of recognition out of the eyes of His child.

Aye, there's more yet here. He looks into our faces, eager for that simple direct answering look into His face and out of our eyes, yours and mine. And we give Him-things, church-membership, orthodox belief, intense activity, aggressive missionary propaganda, money in good measure, tireless, and then tired-out service-things! And all good things. But the thing, the direct look into His own face answering His own hungry searching look, that look in the face that reveals the inner heart that He waits for so often, and waits, a bit sore at heart.

For you know the eye is the face of the face. It's the doorway into the soul, out through which the soul, the man within, looks. I look at you, the man inside here looks out at you through my eye. And I look at the real you down through your eye. The real man is hidden away within, but looks out through the eye and is looked at only through the eye. We really give ourselves to Jesus in the look direct into His face which tells Him all, and through which He transforms us.

A Heart-breaking Verse.

Then comes John's second heart-breaking verse; but it is just a bit more heart-breaking in what it says. Listen: He came to His own home, and they that were His own kinsfolk received Him not into the house but kept Him standing out in the cold and storm of the wintry night.

One of you men goes home to-night. It's your own home, shaped on your own personality through the years. It's a bit late. You've had a long hard day. You're tired. It's stormy. The wind and the rain chill you as you turn the corner. And you pull your coat a bit snugger as you quicken your steps and think of home, warmth and comfort, loved ones, and rest for body and spirit, too.

As you come to the door you reach for your latch-key, and find, in the busy rush, you seem to have forgotten it, somehow. So you ring the bell or knock. And suppose-be patient with me a bit, please. Suppose your loved ones know you're there. You even see a hand drawing aside the edge of the window shade, and two eyes that you know so well peer out through the crack at you; then the shade goes to again. Yes, they know you're there. But the door, your own door, doesn't open. How would you feel?

And some one says to himself, "That's not a good illustration. That thing couldn't happen. It isn't natural." No: you're right. It isn't natural. It could not happen to you. I am sure it could not happen to me. If it could I'd be heart-broken. But this is what happened to Him! This is what John is saying here. He came to His own front door, and they whose very image revealed their close kinship to Him, received Him not into the home, but kept the door fast in His face.

Then there's a later translation. This old King James version bears the date of 1611, I think. And the English Revision is dated 1881, I believe. And this American Standard Revision I am using has 1901 on its title page. But there's a later revision. It bears a yet later date, 1915, April 27. But it is a shifting date. Each translator fixed his own date.

This latest translation runs something like this: He comes to His own. That's you and myself. We belong to Him. He gave His breath to us in Eden. He gave His breath to you and me at our birth. He gave His blood for us on Calvary. We belong to Him. The image of His kinship is stamped upon us. We may not acknowledge it, but that can't change the fact.

He comes to His own, and His own-and here, as the scholars would say, there are variant readings. Let me give you one or two I have found. Here is one: He comes to His own, and His own-puts a chair outside the door on the top-step. It's a large armchair with a cushion in, perhaps. And then His own talks about Him through the crack of the door, or likelier, the window. It's reckoned safer to keep the door fast.

Listen to what he says: "He's a wonderful man this Jesus; great teacher, the greatest; the greatest man of the race; His philosophy, His moral standards are the ideals; wonderful life; great example." They fairly exhaust the language in talking about this Man. But notice. It seems a bit queer. The man they're talking about is outside the door. His own claim is left severely outside.

Some make it read like this: He comes to His own, and they who are His own open the door a crack, maybe a fairly respectably wide crack. We all like the word Saviour. Yes, we cling tenaciously to that. Selfishly, would you say? We want to be saved from a certain place we think of as down, that we've been taught about, and don't want to go to-if it's there; the way men talk about it to-day.

And we want to be saved into another certain place we think of as up, and where we surely want to go after we get through down on the earth, and must go away somewhere else; with that "after" and "must" carefully underscored. And we want to be saved from all the inconveniences possible along the way, and to secure all the advantages and help available: yes, yes, open the door a crack.

But be careful about the width of the opened crack. Let it be just the proper conventionalized width. Let there be no extremeism about the wideness of that opening. Things must be proper. For what would the other crack-open-door-owners think?

And then, too, yet more serious, this Jesus has a way, a most inconsiderate way of coming in as far as you let Him, and of taking things into His own hands. Certain people use that word "inconsiderate"-to themselves, in secret. Jesus changes some things when He is allowed all the way in. He might change your personal habits, your home arrangements, some of your social customs and your business plans.

Of course He changes only what needs changing, as He sees it. But-then-you-well, some things can be carried too far-to suit you. This Jesus has the all habit. He contracted it when He was down on the earth. Our needs grew the habit. He gave all. And He has a way of coming in all the way, and of reaching in His pierced hand and taking all.

He might even put His hand in on that most sacred thing, that holiest of all, that you guard most jealously-that box. It has heavy hinges, and double padlocks, and the keys are held hard under the thumb of your will. Of course there may really not be much in it; and again there may be very much. But much or little, it is securely kept under that thick broad thumb of yours.

Oh! you give; of course; yes, yes, we're all good proper Christian folk here. We give a tenth, and even much more. We support an aggressive missionary propaganda. That's the thing, you know, in our day, for good church people. We give to all the good things. Ye-es, no doubt. And we are very careful, too, that that inconsiderate Hand shall not disturb the greater bulk that remains between hinge and lock. That's yours. Of course you are His, redeemed, saved by His blood.

Well, well, how these pronouns, "His," "ours," do get mixed up! How lovely some things are to sing about, in church, and special services, at Keswick and Northfield. But through it all we hold hard to that key, we don't let go-even to Him, though it is He who entrusts all to our temporary keeping. We do guard the width of that opening crack, do we not?

One day I looked through that crack and caught a glimpse of His face looking through full in my own, with those eyes of His. And at first I wanted to take the door clear off of its hinges and stand it outside against the bricks, and leave the whole door-space wide for Him.

But I've learned better. No man wants to leave the doorway of his life unguarded. He must keep the strong hand of his controlling purpose on the knob of the front door of his life. There are others than He, evil ones, cunningly subtle ones, standing just at the corner watching for such an opportunity. And they step quickly slyly in under your untaught unsuspicious eyes, and get things badly tangled in your life. There's a better, a stronger way.

Here's the personal translation that I try now, by His help, to work out into living words, the language of life. He comes to His own, and His own opens the door wide, and holds it wide open, that He may come in all the way, and cleanse, and change, readjust, and then shape over on the shape of His own presence.

But every one must work out his own translation of that; and every one does. And the crowd reads-not this printed version. It reads this other translation, the one nearest, in such big print, the one our lives work out daily. That's the translation they prefer. And that's the translation they're being influenced by, and influenced by tremendously.

He Came to His Own.

In certain circles in England, they tell of a certain physician years ago. He came of a very humble family. His father was a gardener on a gentleman's estate. And the father died. And the mother wasn't able to pay her son's schooling. But a storekeeper in the village liked this little bright boy and sent him to school. And he went on through the higher schooling, became a physician, and began his practice in London. He became skilled, and then famous, and then wealthy.

He remembered his dear old mother, of course. He sent her money, and fabrics for dresses, and wrote her. But for a long time, in the busy absorption of his life, he had not been to see her. And the dear old mother in the little cottage in the country lived in the sweet consciousness that her son was a great physician up in the great London. He was her chief topic of conversation. When the neighbours were in she would always talk of her son, her Laddie, she called him.

"He's so good to me, my Laddie is. He sends me money. I put it in the bank. He sends me cloth for dresses; it's quite too good for a plain body like me. And he writes me letters, such good letters, wonderful letters. But he's so busy up there, that he hasn't been to see me for a long time now. You know he's a great doctor now, and he has great skill, and there are so many needing him. And he's no time at all, even for himself, I expect. But"-she would always finish her talk as they sat over the tea by saying, half to herself, really more to herself than to the little group, with a half-repressed longing sigh, "but, I wish, I just wish I could see my Laddie."

Then some changes took place on the estate. And the cottage where she had lived so long must be given up. And the dear old woman had to make new plans. And she cudgeled her old head, and thought, and at last she said to herself, "I know what I'll do. I'll go-up to London, and I'll live with Laddie. He'll be so glad to have me." And bright-coloured visions flitted through her mind, as she sat over her tea by the open grate. But she wouldn't send him word; no, no, she would surprise him, and add to his pleasure.

And the dear old soul, in her fine simplicity, did not think into what this would mean, nor of the difference that had grown up with the years, in manner of life, between her son and herself. He was a cultured gentleman, with his well-appointed city home, and the circle of friends that had grown up about him. And she was a simple uncultured country woman with a broad provincial twist on her tongue. But she was blissfully unconscious of this. She would go and live with her Laddie. It would be so delightful for them both.

And so she went. It was her first train journey, and quite a time of it she had finding the house. But at last she stands looking up at the house. "Ugh! does my Laddie live here! in this great mansion?" But there was the name on the door-plate. There was no mistaking that. And so she rang the bell. "Is the doctor in?" She could hardly get the word "doctor" out. She had never called him that before, just Laddie. But now she must say it. "Is the doctor in?" And the word almost stuck in her throat as she thought to herself, "This poor man opening the door doesn't know that the 'doctor' really belongs to me."

But in a hard voice the servant said that it was past the hours. She couldn't see the doctor.

"Ah! bat," she said, quite taken by surprise at being held there, "I must see him."

"But, I tell you, it's quite too late to see him to-day."

But she resolutely put her stout country-boot in the crack of the door, and her English jaw set in true English fashion, and she said with that quietness that has the subtle touch of danger in it, "I'll see the doctor."

And the servant looked puzzled and went to report about this strangely insistent woman. And the doctor was annoyed by the interruption in the midst of something that was absorbing him. He said sharply, "It's past the hours; I can see no one."

"I told her so, sir," replied the man deferentially, "but she insists in a strange way, sir."

"What's she like?"

"Oh, just a plain country body, sir."

"Well, show her up."

And I am glad to remember that she had a warm embrace of his strong arms, as he instantly recognized her in the doorway, while the servant stared. Then he said rather nervously as the servant discreetly withdrew, "How did yon happen to come? Why didn't you send word? Has anything happened?" And then as she sat by the fire sipping a cup of tea, she told the story, in her own simple slow way, and ended up with, "And now I'm coming to live with you, Laddie." And the old eyes behind the spectacles beamed, and the dear old wrinkled face glowed.

And he poked the fire, and tried to think You know, our English friends depend almost wholly on the open grate fire, as we do so largely in the South. And it's a great thing, is the open grate fire. It's a fire. It warms your body, at least in front in extreme weather. But it's more than a fire. It's a stimulus to thought. It refreshes your spirit, and rests your tired nerves, and it is a wonderful thing to help you unravel knotty problems. So he poked the fire and thought, while she, quite unconscious of his embarrassment, went on sipping her tea and talking.

It would never do to have her come there, he thought. And his thoughts went to the circle of friends at the dinner table in the evening, and to the critical city servants that ran his bachelor establishment. And just then his ear caught anew the broad provincial twist on her tongue. He had never noticed it so broad, so decided, before. And she was talking the small countryside talk, chickens and an epidemic among them. And that grated strangely. It certainly wouldn't do to have her come there.

Then the tide began to rise gently on the beach of his heart. He thought, "She's my mother. And if mother wants to come here, here she comes." And he straightened up in his chair, as he gave a gentler touch to a blazing lump of coal. Then the tide ebbed. It began running out again. "No, it would hardly do." And he poked and thought. Finally he broke into her run of talk.

"Mother, you know it is not very healthful here. We have bad fogs in London. And you're used to the wholesome country air. It wouldn't agree with you here, I'm afraid. I'll get a little cottage on the edge of town, and I'll come and see you very often."

And the dear old woman sensed at once just what he was thinking. She was not stupid, if she was just a plain homely body. He got his brains from his simple country mother, as many a man of note has done. But she spoke not of what she felt. She simply said, with that quietness which grows out of strong self-control:

"It's a bit late the night, Laddie, I'm thinking, to be talking about new plans."

And he said softly, "Forgive me, mother: it is late, I forgot." And he showed her to her sleeping apartment.

"And where do you sleep, Laddie?"

"Right here, mother, this first door on the left. Be sure to call me if you need anything."

And he bade her a tender "good-night," and went back to his study to do some more thinking and planning. And very late he came up to his sleeping-chamber. And he was just cuddling his head into the soft pillow for the night, when the door opened, so softly, and in there came a little body in simple white night garb, with a quaint old-fashioned nightcap on, candle in hand. She came in very softly. And he started up.

"Mother, are you ill? What's the matter?"

And she came over very quietly, and put down the candle on the table before she answered. And then softly:

"No, no, Laddie, I'm not ill. I just came to tuck you in for the night as I used to do at home. … Lie still, my Laddie."

And she tucked the clothes about his neck, and smoothed his hair, and patted his cheek, and kissed his face. And she crooned over him as mother with little child. The years were quite forgot. She had her little son again. And she talked mother's love-talk to a child. "Good-night, Laddie … good-night … good-night … mother's own boy." And a little more tucking and smoothing and patting and kissing, and then she turned so quietly, picked up the candle, and went out, closing the door so softly, her great strength revealed in her gentleness.

And he was just on the point of starting up and saying, "Mother, you must stay with me, right here"-no, the morning will do, he thought. But when the morning came she wasn't down for breakfast. And when he went to her room she wasn't there. It turned out afterwards that she had said to herself, "It doesn't suit my Laddie's plans to have me here. I don't understand why. It isn't his fault at all. It just doesn't suit. And I'll never be a trouble to my Laddie."

And so with that rare characteristic English trait of independence, she had quietly gone off early that morning before the house was astir. And he broken-hearted-I'm always glad to remember that-he searched through the wilderness of London for more than a year, searched diligently, but could find no trace of her. And then he was graciously permitted to minister to her last hours in a hospital where a street accident had sent her unconscious, and where he was chief of the medical staff.

She came to her own and her own received her not. He loved her, but it didn't suit his plans. He, Jesus, came to His own, and His own received Him not; it didn't suit their plans. Ah! listen yet further: He comes to His own, you and me, and His own-you finish it. Have we some plans, too, set plans, that we don't propose to change, even for-(softly) even for Him? Each of us is finishing that sentence, not in words so much if at all, in the words of our action. And the crowd reads our translation.

The Oldest Family.

"But," John goes on. That was a steadying "but." It was hard on John to recall how they treated his Friend and Master. But there is a "but." There's another aide, an offset to what he's been saying, a bright bit to offset the black bit. But as many as did receive Him. Some received. Jesus was rejected, yes, abominably, contemptibly rejected. But He was also accepted, gladly, joyously, wholeheartedly accepted, even though it came to mean pain and shame.

As many as received Him, John says, He received into His family. The conception of a family and of a home where the family lives, runs all through underneath here. They would not receive this Jesus because He didn't belong to the inner circle of the old families which they represented. They regarded themselves as the custodians of the exclusive aristocratic circles of Jerusalem. And Jerusalem was the upper circle of Israel.

And every one knew that Israel was the chiefest, the one uppermost nation, of the earth, with none near enough to be classed second. They were the favourites of God, all the rest were "dogs of Gentiles," outsiders, not to be mentioned in the same breath. To these national leaders of Jesus' day, this was the very breath of their life.

"And this Jesus!" They spat on the ground to relieve the intensity of their contempt. "Who was He? A peasant! a Galilean! Nazareth!" Nazareth was put in as a sort of superlative degree of contempt. Of course, they could easily have found out about the lineage of Jesus. In the best meaning of the word, Jesus was an aristocrat. Apart from its philological derivation that word means one who traces his lineage back through a worthy line for a long way, and so one who has the noble traits of such lineage. In the best meaning of the word Jesus was an aristocrat. His line traced back without slip or break to the great house of David, and that meant clear back to Adam. The records were all there, carefully preserved, indisputable. They could easily have found this out.

I recall talking one day in London with a gentle lady of an old, titled Scottish family, an earnest Christian, trained in the Latin Church. In the course of the conversation she remarked, "Of course, Jesus was a peasant." And I replied as gently as I could so as not to seem to be arguing, "Of course, He was not a peasant. He chose to live as a peasant, for a great strong purpose. But He was an aristocrat in blood. His family line traced directly back through the noblest families clear to the beginning. No one living had a longer unbroken lineage. And that is the very essence of aristocracy."

In some circles, they count much, or most, on old families. In certain cities of our own country, east and south, this is reckoned as the hall-mark of highest distinction. When one goes across the water to England and the Continent, he finds the old families of America are rather young affairs. And as he pushes on into the East, some of the old families of Europe sometimes seem fairly recent. I remember in the Orient running across a family where the father had been a Shinto priest, father and son successively, through forty-five generations; and another where the father of the family has been successively a court-musician for thirty-eight generations. I thought maybe I had run into some really old families at last.

I come of a rather old family myself. It runs clear back without break or slip to Adam in Eden. I've not bothered much with tracing it, for there are some pretty plain evidences of ugly stains on the family escutcheon, running all through, and repeatedly. And then even more than that I've become intensely interested in another family, an older family, the oldest family of all. Arrangements have been made whereby I have been taken into this oldest family of all with full rights and privileges. My claims to aristocracy are now of the very highest, with all the noble obligations that go with it. That's what John is talking of here. As many as received Him, He received into His family, the oldest family of all.

These people refused Jesus because He didn't belong to their set. In their utterly selfish prejudice and wilful ignorance, these leaders shut Him out from the circles they controlled. But with great graciousness He received into His circle any, of any circle, high or low, who would receive Him into their hearts. To as many as received Him into their hearts He opened the door into His own family. He gave them the technical right of becoming children of His Father.

Their part of the thing is put very simply in two ways. They believed. They were told, they listened and thought, they accepted as true, they risked what they counted most precious, they loved. So they believed. And so they received. The door opened, the inner door, the heart door. He went in. That settled things for them. When He graciously entered their hearts, the inner citadel of their lives, that settled their place in this oldest family of all.

How We Don't Get In, and How We Do.

It is of intensest interest in our day to have John go on to tell, in his own simple taking way, just how we get into this God-family. First of all, he tells us how we don't get in. Listen: "not of blood," that is, not by our natural generation; "nor of the will of the flesh," that is, not by anything we can do of ourselves, though this has a place, a distinctly secondary place; "nor of the will of man," that is, not by what somebody else can do for us, though this too has its place.

These are the three "nots"; the three ways we are not saved. And it becomes of intensest interest to notice that these are the very three ways that the crowd is emphasizing to-day, some this, others that, as the way of being saved. The three modern words we commonly use for these three "nots" of John are, family, culture, and influence.

Some of us seem to be fully expecting to walk into the presence of God, and to get all there is to be gotten there, because of the family we belong to. This is probably stronger in some of us than we are conscious of. It's a matter of blood with us, our blood, our natural generation. We take greatest pride in showing what blood it is that runs in our veins. We trace the line far back to those whose names are well known. And this sort of thing has overpowering influence in our human affairs down here.

His gracious majesty King George is King of England, because he is the child of Edward and Alexandra. His one and only claim to the English throne is that at the time of accession he was their oldest living son. But that won't figure a farthing's worth when he comes up to the hearthfire of God's family. And I think he understands this full well. I'm expecting to see him there; not as King of England, but as a brother.

It is not a matter of blood. It's a blessed thing to be well-born. It makes a tremendous difference to have the blood of an old noble family in one's veins, if it is good clean blood. But it'll never save us. Salvation is not by lineal descent, not by family line. It is "not of blood." John clears that ground.

Some of us put great stress on what we are in ourselves. This looms big with a great crowd scattered throughout the earth. We know so much. We have gotten it by dint of hard work. We can do some things so skilfully. We have worked into positions of great power among men. Our names are known. Sometimes they are spelled in large letters.

The broad word for this is culture, what we have gained and gotten by our effort, of that which is reckoned good, and which is good. Culture is one of the chief words in our language to-day. Whether spelled the English way or the German, it looms big. It is one of our modern tidbits. It is chewed on much, and pleases our palate greatly. And culture is good, if it is good culture.

But, have you noticed, that you have to have a thing before you can culture it? No amount of the choicest culture will get an apple out of a turnip, nor a Bartlett pear out of a potato, nor make a Chinese into an Englishman, nor an American into a Japanese. Culture can improve the stock, but it can't change it. It takes some other power than culture to change the kind. Here we have to be made of the same kind as they are up in the old family of God. There must be a change at the core. Then culture of that new stock is only good and blessed.

This is John's second "not." It seems rather radical. It completely undercuts so much of our present day notions. If John is right, some of us are wrong, radically, dangerously wrong. Yet John had a wonderful Teacher whom he lived with for a while. And after He had gone, John had another Teacher, unseen but very real, who guided, especially in the writing of the old Jesus-story. The whole presumption is in favour of John's way of it being wholly right. And if that makes us wrong, we would better be grateful to find it out now, while there's time to change. Being saved is not a matter of what we can do, of our culture, though this has its proper place.

And some of us put tremendous stress to-day on influence, what we can command from others, in furtherance of our desires. Influence is spelled in biggest type and printed in blackest ink. Whether in political matters at Washington or at London; in financial, whether Lombard Street or Wall Street; or in the all-important social matters, or even in the educational, the university world, the chief question is, "Whose influence can you get?" "What name can you quote?" "Whose backing have you?" Influence and culture are the twin gods to-day. The smoke of their incense goeth up continuously. Their places of worship are crowded, with bent knees and prostrate forms and reverential hush.

Have you noticed that Jesus hadn't enough influence with the officials of His day to keep from the cross? No: but He had enough power to break the official emblem of earth's greatest authority, the Roman seal on the Joseph tomb. Rather striking that; intensely significant for us moderns. Peter hadn't enough influence with the authorities to keep out of jail. Sounds rather disgraceful that, does it not? Aye, but he had enough power with God to open jail-doors and walk quietly out against the wish of those highest in authority.

Influence has its proper place. It's good, if it is. But we are not saved by it. We are not saved by what some one else can do for us; "not of the will of man." Your mother's prayers and your wife's, and the influence of their godly lives will have great weight. It's a great blessing to have them. They help enormously. But the thing itself that takes a man into the presence of God, saved and redeemed, is something immensely more than this, some action of his own that goes to the roots as none of these other things do.

One time a deputation waited on Lincoln to press a matter of public concern. But his keenly logical mind discerned flaws in their impassioned and carefully worked out arguments. He waited patiently till their case was complete. And then in that quiet way for which he was famous, he said, "How many legs would a sheep have if you called its tail a leg?" As he expected, they promptly answered "Five." "No," he said, "it wouldn't; it would have only four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it one." So a simple bit of his homely sense and accurate logic scattered their finely spun argument.

Calling either family or culture or influence the chief thing doesn't make it so. These are John's three tremendous "nots." They rather cut straight across the common current of thought and belief and conduct to-day. We may indeed be grateful if a single homely drop of black ink from John's pen put into the beautifully cloudy-grey solution of modern thought clears the liquid and makes a precipitate of sharply defined truth that any eye can plainly see.

This is how we won't be saved. This is how we don't get into the family of God. It is "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man"; not through family connection, nor by what we can do of ourselves simply, nor by what we can get some of our fellows to do for us, simply.

"But of God," John says. It is by Someone else, outside of us, above us, reaching down from a higher level, and putting the germ of a new life within us, and lifting us up to His own level. He puts His hand through the open door of our will, what we do in opening up to Him, through "the will of the flesh." He walks along the pathway of the earnest desire of those who would help us up, "the will of man." But it is what He does that does the one thing that all depends upon. His is the decisive action, through our choosing and our friends' helping.

I said it isn't a matter of blood, of lineage. Yet it is. That statement must be modified. Family relationship is of necessity a matter of blood. That's the very blood of it. This is a matter of blood; but not our blood; His. There has to be a new strain of blood. Our blood is stained. It is at fault. It is impure. There's been a bad break far back there in the family record, a complete break. We were powerless either to purify the stock, or to get over that gap, even if we admitted the need.

There had to be a bridging of that gap. It had to be from the upper side. The other fell short. The gap was still there. There had to be a new strain of blood. This was, this is, the only way. We get into that old first family only by the Father of the family reaching over the break and putting in the new strain of blood, the germ of the family life, and so lifting us up to the new level. And Jesus was God doing just that.

Our Tented Neighbour.

Then John begins a new paragraph. He goes back to tell just how the thing was done. Listen: _the Word, this wondrous One, became a man, one of ourselves, and pitched His tent in close amongst our tents._There's only a stretch of canvas between Him and any of us. He wanted to get close, close enough to help, yet never infringing upon the privacy of our tents, only coming in as He was invited. But He has remarkable ears. A whisper reaches Him at once. And He is out of His tent into ours to help at the faintest call. That was why He pitched His tent in amongst ours, to be one of ourselves, and to be at hand in our need.

And then a touch of awe creeps into John's spirit as he writes, and the light flashes out of his eye with the intensity of an old picture surging to the front of his imagination again. There was more than a tent here, more than a man. Out of the man, out through the tent doorway, and tent canvas, flashes a wondrous, soft, clear light, that transfigures canvas and tent and man. John's face glows as he writes, "and we beheld His glory."

I suppose he is thinking chiefly of that still night on white Hermon. This despised Man had called the inner three away from the crowd, in the dark of night, and had gently drawn aside the exquisite drapery of His humanity, and let some of the inner glory shine out before their eyes. So the way was lightened for them as their feet were turned with His down towards the dark valley of the cross. I suppose John is thinking chiefly of this.

But this is not all, I am very sure. There's more, even though this may have been most. Glory is the character of goodness. It is not something tacked on the outside. It is some native thing looking out from within. So much of what we think of as glory and splendour in scenes of magnificence is a something in the externals, the outer arrangements. Splendid garbing, brilliant colours, dazzling shining of lights, seats removed a distance apart and up, magnificent outer appointments,-these seem connected in our thought with an occasion and a scene being glorious.

But John is using the word in its simple true first meaning. Glory is something within shining out. It is the inner native light that goodness gives out. "We beheld His glory." I think John must have been thinking of Nazareth. Thirty out of thirty-three years were spent in homely Nazareth. Ten-elevenths of Jesus' life was spent in-living, simply living the true pure strong gentle life amid ordinary circumstances, homely surroundings. This was the greatest thing Jesus did short of dying. He lived. Next to Calvary where the glory shined out incomparably, it shined out most in Nazareth. He hallowed the common round of life by living an uncommon life there. This was a revealing of His glory. So He revealed the inner spirit of simple full obedience to His Father's plan for His earth-life.

If we would only rise to His level! The way up is down. We are likest Him when we live the true Jesus-life regardless of where it is lived, on the street, in the house, amidst the ideals-or lack of ideals-of those we touch closest. It was a wondrous glory John beheld. And the crowd-no wonder that crowd couldn't resist Jesus. They can't even yet, when He is lived.

Then John goes on quietly to explain about that glory, how it came. He says it was "glory as of an only begotten of a father." The common versions with which we are familiar, the old King James, the English and American revisions, all say "the," "the only begotten of the Father." I suppose the translators wanted to make it quite clear that Jesus was in an exceptional way the very Son of God. And so they don't translate quite as John put it. They try to help him out a little in making his meaning clear.

But you will notice that this old Book of God never needs any helping out in making the truth quite clear. When you can sift through versions and languages down to what is really being said, you find it said in the simplest strongest way possible.

Here John is saying, "glory as of an only begotten from a father." It is a family picture, so common in the East. Here in the West, the unit of society is the individual. The farther west you come the more pronounced this becomes, until here in our own land individualism seems at times to run to extremes. Custom in the East is the very reverse of this. There the unit of action is not the individual, but the family. The family controls the individual in everything. We Westerners think we can see where it runs to such extremes as to constitute one of the great hindrances to progress there.

In the East, if a young man is to be married, he has actually nothing to do with it, except to be present in proper garb when the time comes. The fact that he should now be married, the choice of his bride, the betrothal, the time, all arrangements and adjustments,-all this is done by the families. The two that we Westerners think of as the principals have nothing to do, except to acquiesce in the arrangements of their elders. It is strictly a family affair.

Even so all that belongs to the family, of wealth, fame, inheritance, distinction, vests distinctly in the head of the family, the father. He stands for the whole family. And so, too, all of this descends directly from the father at his death to his eldest son. In some parts the father retires at a certain age, either really or nominally, and all becomes vested technically in his eldest son. And if the son be an only begotten son, then literally all that is in the father comes into the son. All the fame, the inheritance, the traditions, the obligations, the wealth, in short all the glory of the father comes of itself, by common action of events, to the son.

Now this is what John is thinking of as he writes, "we beheld His glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father." That is to say, all there is in the Father is in Jesus. When you see Jesus, you are seeing the Father. The whole of God is in this Jesus. This is what John is saying here.

Grace and Truth Coupled.

And then John does a bit of exquisite packing of much in little. He tells the whole story of the character, the revealed glory, of Jesus in such a few simple words,-"full of grace and truth." Not grace without truth. That would be a sort of weakly, sickly sentimentalism. And not truth without grace. That would be a cold stern repellent insistence on certain high standards. But grace and truth coupled, intermingling.

Of course real grace and truth always are coupled. They tell the exquisite poise that is in everything God does. Truth is the back-bone of grace. Grace is the soft cushioning of flesh upon the bony framework of truth. It is the soft warm breath of life in truth. Truth is grace holding up the one only standard of purity and right and insisting upon it. And as we look we know within ourselves we never can reach it. Grace is truth reaching a strong warm hand down to where we are and helping us reach it.

With God these things are always coupled. We get them separated badly, or would I better say, imitations of them. There is a sort of thing we have called truth. It is not so common now as a generation or more ago. It is a sort of stern elevated preaching of righteousness, but with no warm feel of life to it. I can remember hearing preaching in my immature boy days that made me feel that the man and the thing must be right, but neither had any attraction for me. It was as though a man went fishing with a carefully-made properly-labelled metallic-bait at the end of a long stout cord, and said, as he dangled it in the sinful waters to the elusive fish, "Now, bite; or be damned."

It was never put so baldly, of course, in words. And I was only a child with immature childish imaginations. Yet that was the feeling about the thing the child got. But it's scarcely worth while talking of that now except to point the contrast; things have swung so far to the other extreme.

The current thing to-day is grace without truth, or what is supposed to be grace. It is a sort of man-made substitute. It's something like this. Here's a man in the gutter, the moral gutter. It may be the actual gutter. Or, there may be the outer trappings of refinement that easy wealth provides; or, the real refinement that culture and inheritance bring. But morally and in spirit, it's a gutter. The slime of sin and low passion, of selfishness and indulgence and self-ambition, oozes over everything in full sight. The man's in the gutter.

And along comes the modern philosopher of grace, so-called. He looks down compassionately, and says, "Poor fellow, I'm so sorry for you. Too bad you should have gotten down there. Let me help you a bit, my brother." So he puts some flowering plants down in the slime of the gutter, and he brushes the man's clothes a bit, and his hair, and sprinkles the latest-labelled cologne-water over him, and pats him on the shoulder, and says, "Now, you feel better, my man, don't you?" And the man sniffs the perfume, and is quite sure he does. But he is still in the gutter.

There seems to be an increasing amount of this sort of thing over in my neighbourhood. How is it in your corner of the planet? There's an intense stress on environment; that means the outside of things. Better sanitation, improved housing, purer milk supply, and segregation of vice which seems to mean putting some of the viler smelling slime of the gutter, the slimer slime, all over in one guttered section by itself. But there can be no health there. It's a change of location that is needed!

The wondrous Jesus-plan is different. It holds things in poise. Grace and truth. Truth is Jesus stretching His hand up high, up to the limit of arm's length, and saying, "Here is the standard, purity, righteousness, utter honesty of heart and rigid purity of motive and life. You must reach this standard. It can't be lowered by the half thickness of a paper-thin shaving. You must come to this standard. The standard never comes down to you."

And the man in the gutter says, "I'll never reach it." And he is right. He never will-of himself, alone. Yet that's truth, true truth. "A hopeless case" you say; "utter impractical idealizing! Case ruled out of court." Just wait, that's only half the case, and not the warm half either.

Grace is Jesus going down into the gutter, the gutterest gutter, and taking the man by his outstretching hand, and lifting him clean up out of the gutter, up, and up, till the man reaches the standard, and is never content till he does. That was a tremendous going down, and a yet more tremendous lifting up. Jesus broke His heart and lost His life in the going down.

But out from the broken heart came running the blood that proved both cleansing and a salve. And out of the grave of that lost life came a new life that proved an incentive, and a tremendous dynamic. The blood cleanseth the inside of the man in the gutter, and heals his sores, restores his sight and hearing and sensitiveness of touch. The new life put inside the man makes him rise up and walk determinedly out of the gutter to a new location. He is a new man, with a new inside, in a new location. That threefold cord is ahead of Solomon's-it can't be broken.

And, if you'll mark it keenly, a new _in_side includes a new _out_side. The thing that in religious talk is called conversion is a sociological factor that cannot be ignored by the thoughtful student. The drunkard goes down to the old-fashioned sort of mission where they insist on teaching that the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin, and that the Holy Spirit will make a new man of you, and burn the sin out.

And something happens to the drunkard. He kneels a drunkard, drunk; he rises a man, sober. He goes to the hole he calls home. And at once a change begins to work gradually out. He treats his wife and children differently. He works. They are fed better and clothed warmer. He gets a better house in a better neighbourhood. The new sociological factor is at work. It began inside; it revolutionizes the outside.

Settlement houses, better environment, improved outer conditions of every sort, are blessed, and only blessed, after the inside is fixed or in helping to get it fixed. If that isn't done, they are simply as a lovely bit of pink-coloured court-plaster skilfully adjusted over an ugly incurable ulcer. The man is befooled while the ulcer eats into his vitals.

It's only the blood-power of a Jesus, the Jesus, that can fix the inside. He cuts out the ulcer and puts in a new strain of blood. Then the inner includes the outer. And the most grateful of all is the man. This is the Jesus-plan, John says, "full of grace and truth."

Grace is named first. It comes first. That is a bit of the graciousness of it. That's love's exquisite diplomacy. We feel the grateful warmth of the sun in the winter's air, and are drawn by it. We smell the fragrance of the roses and come eagerly nearer. We hear the winsomeness of a gentle wooing voice a-calling, and instinctively answer to it. And then we find the sun's power to heal and cleanse and its insistence on burning up what can't stand its heat.

We find the inspiring, purifying uplift of the flowers, drawing us up the hillside to the top. We find the voice-the Man-gently but with unflinching unbending determination that never yields a hairbreadth, insisting on our coming clear up to the topmost level. That's a wondrous order of words, and coupling of helps, grace and truth.

And this is Jesus. This is John's simple tremendous picture. This Man comes down into our neighbourhood, on our earth. He sticks up His stretch of tent-canvas right next ours. He insists on being His own true self in the midst of the unlikeliest surroundings. The glow of His presence shines out over all the neighbourhood of human tents. There's a purity of air that stimulates. Men take deep breaths. There's a fragrance breathing subtly out from His tent that draws and delights. Men come a-running with childlike eagerness.

Grace Flooding.

And now as Jesus comes quietly down the river road where John's crowd is gathered, John the witness points his finger tensely out, and eagerly cries out: There He is! This is the man I've been telling you about! He that cometh after me in point of time is become first in relation to me in point of preeminence: for He was before me both in time and in preeminence.

And then John adds a tremendous bit. He had just been talking about Jesus being full of that great combination of grace and truth. Now his thought runs back to that. Listen: "Of His fullness have we all received."

There's another translation of this sentence that I have run across several times. It reads in this way: "Of His skimpiness have we all received." I never found that in common print; only in the larger print of men's lives. But in that printing it seems to have run into a large edition, with very wide circulation. Men don't read this old Book of God much; less than ever. They get their impression of God wholly from those who call themselves His followers.

They watch the procession go by. Here they come crippled diseased maimed weakened in body, piteously pathetically crutching along, singed and burned with the flames of the same low passion that the onlooking crowds know so well, struggling, limping, crutching along bodily and in every other way.

And that's a crowd with very keen logic, those onlookers. It judges God by those bearing His name, very properly. And it says more or less unconsciously,-"What a poor sort of God He must be those people have. No doubt He has a great job of management on His hands. There are so many of them to provide for. And apparently there can't be any abundance, certainly no overflow, no surplus. He has to piece it out the best He can to make it go as far as possible."

"I think maybe I needn't be in any hurry to join that crowd, at least till I have to, along towards the end of things here. There would only be one more to carry. He has such a crowd now. And the resources are pretty badly strained, judging by appearances." So the crowd talks. Poor God! How He is misrepresented by some walking translations. "Of His skimpiness--!" Be careful. Don't take too much. Be grateful for the crumbs.

Please clean your spectacles, and readjust them carefully, and if you are afflicted with the small-print Bible that seems in such common use, get a reading-glass and look here at the proper translation. That crutching, leather-bound translation is grossly inaccurate, if it is in such big print, and in such wide circulation. Look here. Can you see the words? This is the only correct reading: "Of His fullness have all we received." Put that into the print of your life, for your own sake and for the crowd's sake, yes, and for God's sake, too, that the crowd may know the kind of a God God is.

And as if John had a suspicion about possible bad translations, he did a bit of underscoring. That word fullness is underscored in John's original copy. It's a heavy underscoring, in red. The underscoring is in three words he adds: "Grace for grace." That is, grace in place of grace. It's a sort of picture. Some grace has been received. And it is so wondrous that nothing seems so good. And the man is singing as he goes about his work.

Then comes a sudden soft inrushing of a flood of grace so great that it seems to displace all that was there. Oh! the man didn't know there was such grace as this. It seems as if he had never known grace before. And the work-song is hushed into a great stillness, though the wondrous rhythm of peace is greater than before.

And then before he quite knows how it happens in comes another soft subtle inrushing flood-tide of grace that seems to displace all again. Some temptation comes, some sore need, some tight corner. You look to Him; lean on Him; risk all on His response. He responds; and in comes the fresh inrush.

And then this sort of thing becomes a habit, God's habit of responding to your need, need of every sort. It becomes the commonplace, the blessed commonplace that can never be common. That's John's underscoring of the word "fullness." May the crowds whose elbows we jostle get this underscored translation, bound in shoe-leather, your shoe-leather.

Then in his eagerness to make us understand the thing really, John makes a contrast. "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." The law was a thing, given, through a man. Grace and truth was a man coming, the very embodiment in Himself of what the two words stand for.

The law, the old Mosaic law, was not a statement of the full message of God. That was given much earlier. It was given to all. It came directly. It was given first in Eden, in its flood; and then continuously to every man wherever he was. It was given within each man's own heart, and through the unfailing flooding light in nature above and below and all around. The tide of its coming has never ceased in volume nor in steadiness of flow; and does not cease. That tide came to flood in Jesus. And that flood has never known an ebb.

But men's eyes got badly affected. They didn't let the light in, either

clearly or fully. The light was there, but it was not getting in.

Something had to be done to help out those eyes. So the law was given.

It was merely a mirror to let a man see his face, what it was like.

Here's a mother calling to her little son, "Come here and let me wash your face." And he calls out, "It isn't dirty." "Yes, dear, it is very dirty, come at once." "Why, no, mother, it isn't dirty; you washed it this morning." And the child's tone blends a hurt surprise and a settled conviction that his mother is certainly wrong this time about the condition of his face.

And if the mother be of the thoughtful brooding kind, she says nothing, but gets a hand mirror, and holds it before the child's face. That will always get a child's attention. And the boy looks; he sees his dirty face reflected. The blank astonishment on his face can't be put into words. It tells the radical upsetting revolution in his thought on that subject. How could it have happened that his face got into that condition! And the washing process is yielded to at least; possibly even asked for.

That's what the law did and does. It showed man his face, his heart, his need. It brings upsetting revolutionary ideas regarding one's self. There it stops. That's its limit. Then the Man who in Himself is grace and truth does the rest.

The Spokesman of God.

Then John quietly, deftly draws the line around to the starting point in that first tremendous statement. He completes a circle perfect in its strength and beauty and simplicity, as every circle is. If we follow the order of the words somewhat as John wrote them down, we find the bit of truth coming in a very striking, as well as in a fresh way. "God no one has ever, at any time, seen."

That seems rather startling, does it not? What do these older pages say? Adam talked and walked and worked with God, and then was led to the gate of the garden. God appeared to Abraham, and gave him a never-to-be-forgotten lesson in star study. Moses spent nearly six weeks with Him, twice over, in the flaming mount, and carried the impress of His presence upon his face clear to Nebo's cloudy top.

The seventy elders "saw the God of Israel, and did eat and drink," the simple record runs. And young Isaiah that morning in the temple, and Ezekiel in the colony of exiles on the Chebar, and Daniel by the Tigris at the close of his three weeks' fast,-these all come quickly to mind. John's startling statement seems to contradict these flatly.

But push on. John has a way of clearing things up as you follow him through. Listen to him further: The only-begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father-He has always been the spokesman of God. Look into that sentence of John's a little. It seems quite clear, clear to the point of satisfying the most critical research, that John wrote down the words, "the only-begotten God." The contrast in his mind is not between "God," and the "only begotten Son." It is a contrast whose verbal terms fit with much nicer exactness than that. It is a contrast between "God" and the "only-begotten God."

There is only one such person whichever way unity. They tell the whole story hanging at the end of John's pen. This little bit commonly called the prologue is a gem of simplicity and compactness.

It is John's Gospel in miniature, even as John's Gospel is the whole Bible story in miniature. You can see the whole of the sun reflected in a single drop of water. You can see the whole of both Father and Son in the action of love in these simple opening lines of John's Gospel.

Have you ever been walking down a country road till, weary and thirsty, you stopped at an old farmhouse and refreshed yourself at the old-fashioned well, with its bucket and long sweep? And as you rested a bit by the well you wondered how deep it was. It didn't look deep at all. The water was near, and it was so clear and sweet and refreshing, and so easy to get at for a drink.

Is it deep? So you fish a rather long bit of string out of your pocket, and tie it to a bit of stone you find lying close by. And you let the stone down, and down, and down, till you are surprised to find that the well is deeper than your string is long.

Well, John's opening bit is just like that. It seems very simple, easily understood at first flush in the mere statements made. The water is near the top. You easily drink. And you are refreshed. But when you try to find out how deep it is, you are startled to find that it is clear over your head.

But it is never over your heart. It is too deep for you to grasp and understand. You never touch bottom. But it's never beyond heart-understanding. You can sense and feel and love. You can open the sluice-gates into your heart, and have the blessed flood-tide lift and lift and bear you aloft and along. You can love. And that is the whole story.

Was John an artist? Is he making a rare painting for us here? Is he studying perspective, shading and spacing, to an exquisite nicety that is revealed in the very way he puts words and sentences and paragraphs together? I do not know. And if any of you think the thing I am about to speak of is due to a mere mechanical chance of the pen, I'll not quarrel with you. Though I shall still have my own personal thought in the matter.

But will you notice this? John begins his prologue with a description of a wonderful personality. He ends it with another description of this same personality. Both descriptions are rare in beauty and boldness, in simplicity and brevity. And right midway between the two, at almost the exact middle line of the reading, at what is the artistic center, stands the word "came."

That word "came" gathers up into itself and tells out to you the whole story about this twice-described personality. "He came" John says. That's the whole thing. First the He fills your eye, and then what He did-came. And as you step off a bit for better perspective, and change your personal position this way and that to get the best light, you find the picture standing out before your awed eyes.

It is a Man coming down the road with face looking into yours. He is truly a man, every line of the picture makes that clear to you. But such a man as never was seen before, with the rarest blending of the kingly and the kindly in His bearing. The purest purity, the utmost graciousness, the highest ideals, the gentlest manner, nobility beyond what we have known, and kindliness past describing,-all these blend in the pose of His body and most of all in the look of His face. And He is in motion. He is walking, walking towards us, with hands outstretched.

This is John's picture of Jesus. He came to His own. He came because His own drew Him. Out from the bosom of His Father, into the womb of a virgin maid, and into the heart of a race He came. Out of the glory-blaze above into the gloom of the shadow, and the glare of false lights below, He came.

Out of the love of a Father's heart, the Only-begotten came, into contact with the hate that was the only-begotten of sin, that He might woo us men up, and up, and up, into the only-begotten life with the Father.

Jesus was God on a wooing errand to the earth.

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