Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
(Christmas day Sermon): — Here is joy, joy at a sight, at the sight of a day, and that day Christ's, and no day is so properly His as His birthday. First, Christ has a day proper to Him. "My day." Secondly, this day is a day of double joy — "rejoiced," "was glad." Thirdly, this was so to Abraham. Lastly, all this nothing displeasing to Christ, for it is spoken to the praise of Abraham that did it, and to the dispraise of the Jews who did it not. We are now disposing ourselves to this, and have a three-fold warrant.
1. We have Abraham for our example. We do but as he in making Christ's day a day of joy.
2. Abraham's example approved by Christ, who commends the patriarch, not that he rejoiced at the sight of Him, but of His day. Verily, the speech is in honour of Christmas.
3. He reproves the Jews for not doing herein as Abraham, which is against them that have a spleen at this feast, and think they can joy in Him and yet set by His day. Nay, love Him, love His day. They tell us that to keep it they would Judaize (Galatians 4:10), but the context shows not to keep it is to Judaize.
I. THE OBJECT. "My day."
1. Not as the Son of God. He has no day.
(1) Day and night are parts of time, but His goings forth are from eternity (Micah 5:2).
(2) If we would improperly call it a day, no day to be seen (1 Timothy 6:16).
(3) If we could see it and Him in His Deity, yet there is small joy.
2. But as the Son of Man He hath more days than one; but this notes one above the rest, a day with the double article. There are two such eminent days. Of His Genesis, and of His Exodus; of His nativity and His passion.
(1) Not of His passion; for that was none of His (Luke 22:53), but ours: and no day, but rather night; and no day of joy (Luke 23:48).
(2) But of His birth, and so the angel calls it (Luke 2:11). And His day because every man has a property in His birthday; as kings in the day of the beginning of their reigns; as Churches, when they are first dedicate; as cities, when their first trench is cast. And a day of joy in heaven and earth (Luke 2:10-14): to all people, not only on and after it, but before, and so to Abraham. Of course "day" must be taken for the whole time of Christ's life; yet that time had its beginning on a day, and that day even for that beginning may challenge a right in the word.
II. THE ACTS.
1. Abraham's first act — his desire.
(1) The cause of it. Why should Abraham so desire two thousand years before! What was it to him? You remember Job's Easter (Job 19:25). The joy of this was the same as Abraham's Christmas; oven that a day should come when his Redeemer should come into the world. For a Redeemer he needed, and therefore desired His day (Isaiah 29:22). The time when he had this day first shown him he complains of his need (Genesis 18:27).
(2) The manner of it. We may take measure of the greatness of the day by the greatness of his desire. The nature of the word is, "he did even fetch a spring for joy," and that not once but often. He could not contain his affection, it must out in bodily gesture. Think of a staid, discreet man being so exceedingly moved; and to do all this only in the desire.
2. Abraham's second act. "He saw it," though "afar off" (Hebrews 11:13), "as in a perspective glass" (1 Corinthians 13:12). He did not know precisely the day, but that such a day should come. How did he see it?
(1) Not as if he could not see it unless Christ had been in the flesh in His day. So Simeon saw (Luke 2:30). But better than this, for if Simeon had not seen in Abraham's manner, he had been no nearer than the Jews who stoned Christ.
(2) If not with the eyes, then how? There is in every man two men — outward and inward. Now if there be an inward we must allow him senses, and so eyes (Ephesians 1:18); it was with these that Abraham saw, and by no other do we see.
(3) By what light saw he? He was a prophet, and might be in the Spirit, and have the vision clearly represented before him; but he was a faithful man (Galatians 3:9), and saw it in the light of faith (Hebrews 11:1, 27).
(4) Where was this and when? The text is enough, but the Fathers hold that he saw his birth at Mature, His passion at Moriah (Genesis 17:19; Genesis 18:10). But this day he saw at Mature. Christ was in person there, one of the three.
3. Abraham's third act. He that was glad that he should see it must needs be glad when he did see it; accomplishment is more joyful than desire. And what grounds (Genesis 26:4)!Conclusion: The reference to us.
1. Our desire. We have greater cause to desire this day because we have greater need.
2. Our sight is much clearer than his. For though we see as he, and he as we, by the light of faith; yet he in the faith of prophecy yet to come, we in the faith of history now past.
3. Our joy is to be above his, as we have the greater cause and the better sight. Rules for our joy.
(1) Here are two sorts —
(a) Our exultation, a motion of the body.
(b) The other, joy, a fruit of the spirit. Let the former have its part, but should not have so large an allowance of time and cost as to leave little or nothing for the spirit.
(2) That our joy in Christ's day be for Him. We joy in it as it is His. The common sort wish for it and joy in it as it is something else, viz., a time of cheer and feasting, sports and revelling, and so you have a golden calf's holiday.
Parallel VersesKJV: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.