I. JESUS IN THE BEGINNING.
The beloved disciple opens his beautiful evangel with
these words, "In the beginning was the Word," When the Almighty
"made known His ways to Moses" the inspiration was, "In the beginning God
created the heaven and the earth." In both passages "in the beginning"
means "from eternity;" and it is worthy of notice, that John
affirms of "the Word" just what Moses ascribes to "God:" "All things were
made by Him." Our blessed Saviour, then, is Divine: ''The same was in the
beginning [from eternity] with God." What a grand thought is this! He who
died for us is "the Eternal" himself. However incomprehensible, however
impenetrable the mystery, it is true, He is the uncreated—He
the Creator. Jesus is not only the only friend of sinners—for '' there is
none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved"—but
He is their oldest friend. From all eternity He has been loving
them. He was ''set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the
earth was;" and even then, He himself tells us that "His delights were
with the sons of men." O Divine Redeemer! possess my soul with the
exalting persuasion that Thou hast loved me '' with an everlasting
love"—that, when there was no creature of any kind in existence, Thou wert
thinking of me, intensely affectionate towards me, and, in the councils of
peace, representing and undertaking for me. In wisdom Thou didst design
the worlds of space; in power Thou didst construct them ; with goodness
Thou didst replenish them ; but, in still deeper wisdom, with still more
awful power, and in still more admirable kindness, didst Thou find a
ransom for my deathless soul. Therefore, "bless the Lord, O my soul."
II. JESUS IN THE PROMISE.
"I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and
between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt
bruise his heel," are the wonderful words of the first promise. We
have in the Bible many "exceeding great and precious promises;" but they
all draw their precious-ness out of the first. But for it, they should be
wells without water, and words without meaning. Deep and shoreless as is
the ocean of redeeming love, it was filled out of this fountain. When God
uttered it, the rod was uplifted which struck the rock of our salvation,
and from that moment "the rivers of His pleasure" have been flowing
through our dry and parched souls. He spake the word in the garden of Eden
that shook hell to its depths, that peopled the visions of angels with the
peerless glories of a new kingdom for their Lord, and that laid the
foundations of that spacious, solemn temple, within which He is to receive
the homage of the universe for ever, even the great soul of his ransomed
Church. Oh, what an impressive scene was here when man fell, and God
rushed out of His secret place of mercy, and saved him on the very brink
of destruction ! Shadowy and dark was the oracle; but the gospel was in
it, and that gospel was believed, and the transgressors were saved. Sin
was met at its birth with the only alterative that destroys its virus. The
gospel was believed the very first time it was preached, and souls were
saved by the first exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus. It was Jesus
himself who spake to the guilty trio; and meet it was that, at the very
beginning of His mediatorial work, He should make the devil tremble, and
snatch souls out of his jaws. How thrilling is the thought, that, as He
was conqueror at the outset, so was He at the finishing of His merciful
atonement! Before there was time thoroughly to debauch the soul with sin,
our first parents were partially restored to, and by faith in, God; and as
His own soul was about to depart, while He hung upon the cross, He
illustrated His mightiness to save by taking one of the chief of sinners
along with Him to the paradise above. The gospel bruised the
serpent's head that day in Eden—again, that night on Calvary; and nothing
but the gospel, as we have it in the first promise, gives Satan any
concern, for by it alone are his works to be destroyed.
III. JESUS IN THE EMBRYO-CHURCH.
When Abel was murdered, his brother, it is said, "went
out from the presence of the Lord;" but the sorrowing parents continued to
enjoy that presence. They were members of the infant Church; for the
presence of the Lord implies the presence of His people. He dwells
where they dwell—nay, He himself is their "dwelling-place in all
generations." This is their security, that whatever betides, they shall
never be either homeless or fatherless. When Seth was born, his mother
applied the first promise to his birth, regarding him as the divinely
appointed towards its fulfilment. Here we have Jesus, '' the seed of the
woman," drawing out that woman's confidence, and fixing it on Himself.
When Enoch was translated he was walking with God. His life was a life of
faith, and faith always implies that Jesus is present to, and appropriated
by, the soul. Noah, we are told, "found grace in the eyes of the Lord."
That great preacher of righteousness saw through the timbers of the ark
into the womb of the everlasting covenant, where lay the germinating
elements of the future glorified Church. Jesus spake with him face to
face, and accepted from him the sacrifice which he offered on the rude,
unpolished altar of Ararat. And surely Jesus held sweet communion with
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The first was "his friend;" the second
was his fearer : the third was his prince—the wrestler in
prayer, that prevailed over him. Truly, Lord Jesus, Thy delights have,
from the beginning, been with the sons of men. Thou art the lover of the
soul. From eternity Thou wert blessed in Thyself, in Thine own holiness
and goodness ; and, in the earlier epochs of time, Thou didst rejoice in
brooding over Thine own likeness, as it reappeared in the seed of the
faithful. ''The God of Jacob is our refuge."
IV. JESUS AMONG THE PRIESTS.
"The priests went always into the first tabernacle,
accomplishing the service of God." We sometimes wonder how much of the
gospel these priests apprehended when they bared their arms to shed
the blood of the heifer. They were quite alive to this, that the remission
of sins was, in some mysterious way, inseparable from the shedding of
blood on Jehovah's altars; but we cannot suppose them to have been so
ignorant as to believe that such blood had merit to take away sins.
There was much about the solemn and imposing ritual of their Church to
suggest that more was meant than met the eye. There was something
exceedingly majestic in the high priest clad in his robes of office,
something overawing in his annual disappearance within the veil, and
something almost divine in his whole deportment, as he returned from the
Holy of Holies to bless the congregation. But Aaron and his successors
knew that a Greater than even Melchizedek was there. On the Shekinah above
the mercy-seat their eyes rested every time they entered the Holy of
Holies: and they must have carried, from this sublime symbol of Jehovah's
presence, indelible impressions of the reality of Israel's God, and of the
necessity for the shedding of better blood than that of bulls to justify
His mercy. All the priests, indeed, were understood to lay the sacrifices
on the altar, as believing preachers to the people of the one great
atonement for sin that was to be made in the end of the world. In this way
alone can it be true of them that they "accomplished the service of God."
And what does it all mean, but that Jesus himself was there, in them, and
with them, the true Shekinah within the veil, and the true sacrifice
without? When I look upon Aaron as he sacrifices and intercedes, I see
Jesus laying down His own life for us, and then becoming an advocate with
the Father. When I see inferior priests presenting their morning and
evening services, their continual burnt-offering, I see Jesus in all the
members of His Church, each sprinkling upon his own conscience "the
precious blood of Christ," and each consecrating himself a priest unto
God. Yes; Jesus was in that ark, above that mercy-seat, in that
priesthood, in that blood, in all the service of that sanctuary.
Immediately after instructing Moses in all these matters, He said, "And I
will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God." How
thankful should we be that we live under the new and better
testament!—that we are beyond the "beggarly elements" of the old, and that
in our Jesus we at once behold the High Priest who officiates, the Lamb
that is slain, the Altar on which the blood is shed, and the eloquent
Intercessor whom "the Father heareth always!" Truly, "the lines have
fallen unto us in pleasant places, and we have a goodly heritage." The
typical priesthood was '' not suffered to continue by reason of death;"
but Jesus "continueth ever," and ''is able to save them to the uttermost
that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for
V. JESUS IS THE PSALMS.
David himself saith in the Book of Psalms, "The Lord
said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies
thy footstool." It is interesting to hear the Saviour thus pointedly and
unhesitatingly giving His sanction to the authenticity and genuineness of
this most inestimable portion of the Bible. On this occasion, the
reference and quotation were designed to confute and confound the scribes.
His allusion, however, to these divine odes after His death, and just as
He was about to ascend up to heaven, is more impressive and instructive:
''And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, that
all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and
in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me." No wonder, after
this, that so much searching has been made by the Church for her Lord in
this devotional section of sacred writ. To have it from His own lips that
in the Psalms there are to be found things "concerning Him," is enough to
send all that love Him to glean there. Hence what are called the "
Messianic Psalms" have been more profoundly studied than all the rest, not
only by scholars, but by saints. It was to be expected of David, with whom
the covenant of royalty was made, and to whom the promise of the kingdom
was given, that he would sing of Jesus in no measured strain. Nor are
Asaph and the other singers of Israel slow to take up their harps and echo
forth Messiah's praise. We have not entered the vestibule of this divine
music-hall, before our souls are made to rise in the presence of Him who
is to have "the heathen for His inheritance," and "the uttermost parts of
the earth for His possession." Anon we are carried forward to the very
days of the Incarnation, and, as if by divine foresight, His Gethsemane
and Calvary sufferings are described in language as particular as it is
pathetic. We see men ''laughing Him to scorn, shooting out the lip, and
shaking the head; piercing His hands and His feet, parting His garments,
and casting lots upon His vesture." Yea, we hear that heaven-piercing cry
which clothed the sun with darkness, and made the earth quake,—"My God, my
God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Above all, we are conducted along the
lines of the gospel epochs, and have our hearts cheered by the future
triumphs and glories of the Messiah's kingdom down to the latest ages.
Thus the seventy-second Psalm is a perfect contrast to the twenty-second.
In the latter, He humbles Himself, and becomes obedient unto death, even
the death of the cross. In the former, He is exalted to His throne in the
heavens, and the blessedness of His mediatorial reign is seen in the
submission and felicity of a regenerated world, in the falling down of
kings before Him, and in the surrender to His service of the gold of
Sheba, and the prayers of faith. Let us then pray, ''Blessed be His
glorious name for ever; and let the whole earth be filled with His glory!"
VI. JESUS IN THE SONG.
It became the son and the heir of David to baptize his
poem with the Messianic spirit. He had spoken "three thousand proverbs,"
and his "songs were a thousand and five;" these, no doubt, were beautiful,
and those were full of wisdom. But his '' Song of songs " is wiser than
the wisest of his proverbs, and sweeter than the sweetest of his odes,
because it lauds Him who is "the Wisdom of God," and for whom "praise
waiteth in Sion." He could speak of trees, "from the cedar tree that is in
Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall;" but no
chapter of his botany can equal those exquisite stanzas which describe the
loveliness of "the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the valleys." The
"cedars of Lebanon" are nought before Him who is "the apple-tree among the
trees of the wood." The father, in his psalms, rises into the lofty and
holy regions of wonder, worship, and confidence. When he strikes his lyre,
it is to sound forth the divine honour of his Lord— and no grander themes
were ever set to music than those which were chosen for the praises of the
sanctuary. On the other hand, the son—worthy in this of such a sire—in his
Song .of songs, thirsts and pants after his Beloved; with him it is the
passion of love—divine love—love labouring for expression—sighing its soul
out after the sweet embraces of Him whose love is "better than wine," and
refusing to let Him go till the blessing was given. What a delicious view
have we in all this of the fascinating beauty of Jesus—of our dear Lord,
"the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely!"
O my soul! lovest thou Him? art thou, too, "sick of love?" Be stirred up
from thy mysterious depths to bless His holy name, "who redeemeth thy life
from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving-kindnesses and tender
VII. JESUS AMONG THE PROPHETS.
"We have found Him of whom Moses, in the law and the
prophets, did write—Jesus," said Philip to Nathanael. "The testimony of
Jesus is the spirit of pro2)hecy," was the voice that came out of the
throne to John in Patmos. It is pleasant to search for Jesus anywhere, but
specially in the prophecies. He assuredly is to be found among the
prophets of the house of Israel. When the divine afflatus fell upon them.