“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Before this Vessel of grace let us pause in adoring admiration of its greatness and its beauty. It is the “great mystery of godliness.” Angels are summoned to adore it. “When He brings in the first-begotten into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him.”
It was the profoundest conception of God’s wisdom, the masterpiece of His power, and worthy of their deepest homage. Such an unveiling of the glory of God they had never gazed upon before. In the countless glories with which He had enriched and garnished the universe, there was not its symbol, nor its type. All other wonders cease to astonish, and all other beauty fades, in comparison with this, the grandest, the peerless of all. As if fathoming the utmost depth of infinity, and collecting all its hidden treasures of wisdom and power, of grace and truth, God would seem to have concentrated and embodied, to have illustrated and displayed them all, in the person of His Incarnate Son, “God manifest in the flesh.”
In this was found to consist the fitness of Immanuel, as the covenant Head of grace to the church. The Divine and costly treasure, no longer confided to the guardianship and ministration of a weak, dependent creature, was deposited in the hands of incarnate Deity, One whom the Father knew, His “equal,” His “fellow,” made strong for Himself; and thus it was secured to His church, an inexhaustible and eternal supply.
But not in His Divine nature only did the fitness and beauty of our Lord, as the one Vessel of grace, appear. His human nature, so perfect, so sinless, so replenished, enriched, and sanctified with the in-being of the Holy Spirit, conspired to render Him “fairer than the children of men.”—But in what did the chief excellence and beauty of our Lord’s humanity consist? Was it the glory of human wisdom, of worldly grandeur, of secular power? No; not in these!
It was that which the world the least esteems, and the most hates, which formed the rich endowment of our Lord’s inferior nature—the grace which dwelt within Him. The world conferred no dignity upon Christ, save that of its deepest ridicule and its bitterest scorn. In His temporal estate, He preferred poverty to wealth, obscurity to distinction, insult to applause, suffering to ease, a cross to a throne. So indigent and neglected was He, though every spot of earth was His, and all creatures were feeding from His hand, He had no nightly shelter, and often no “daily bread.” How affecting to those who love the Savior, and who owe all their temporal comforts to His deprivation, and all their glory to His abasement, are expressions like these—”Jesus hungered;” “Jesus said, I thirst;” “Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit.” “Jesus groaned within Himself;” “Jesus wept” “The Son of man has not where to lay His head.” Thus low did stoop the incarnate God!
But in the midst of all this poverty and humiliation, God did seem to say, “I will make Him, my Son, more glorious than angels, and fairer than the children of men. I will endow Him immeasurably with my Spirit, and I will replenish Him to the full with my grace. I will anoint Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows.” When He appeared in the world, and the eye of the evangelist caught the vision, he exclaimed with wondering delight, “The glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
How did all that He said and did, each word and action, betray the fullness of grace that dwelt within Him! The expressions that distilled from His lips were “gracious words;” the truths He thus taught were the doctrines of grace; the works He performed were the miracles of grace; the invitations He breathed were the promises of grace; the blessings He pronounced were the gifts of grace; in a word, the blood He shed, the righteousness He wrought, the redemption He accomplished, the salvation He proclaimed, the souls He rescued, and the kingdom He promised, were the outgushings, the overflowings, the achievements, the triumphs, and the rewards of grace.