John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
An Argument for the IncarnationW. Braden.John 1:14
Beholding Christ's GloryJ. C. Jones, D. D.John 1:14
Beholding the Glory of ChristJohn 1:14
Bethlehem and its Good NewsH. Bonar, D. D.John 1:14
Christ Clothed in Human FleshJohn 1:14
Christ the Tabernacle of GodArrowsmith.John 1:14
Christ, the Life and the LightD. J. Vaughan, M. A.John 1:14
Christ, the WordD. J. Vaughan, M. A.John 1:14
Christ's Glory in the FleshJ. Garbett, M. A.John 1:14
God Dwelling with MenJ. Culross, D. D.John 1:14
God IncarnateR. M'Cheyne.John 1:14
Jesus Christ the Fountain of GraceS. Summers, M. A.John 1:14
Lessons of the IncarnationJ. H. Barrows, D. D.John 1:14
The Beneficent Inspirations of the IncarnationJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 1:14
The Character of JesusJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 1:14
The Difference Between the Christian and the Heathen IncarnationsPrincipal Grant.John 1:14
The Double Incarnation; Or, the Soul's ChristmasD. Thomas, D. D.John 1:14
The Fulness of ChristJ. Culross, D. D.John 1:14
The Glory of ChristA. J. Joscelyne, M. A.John 1:14
The Glory of Christ BeheldC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:14
The God-Man Satisfying the Desire of HumanityE. de Pressense, D. D.John 1:14
The Grand Purpose of the IncarnationW. Denton, M. A.John 1:14
The Great BirthdayCanon Liddon.John 1:14
The Hypostatic UnionJ. Flavel.John 1:14
The Ideal Fitness of the IncarnationJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 1:14
The IncarnationJ. Flavel.John 1:14
The IncarnationPreacher's AnalyistJohn 1:14
The Inference from the Human to the DivineJ.R. Thomson John 1:14
The Influence of Christ's Grace and Truth Upon ArtJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 1:14
The NativityBp. Andrews.John 1:14
The Necessity of the IncarnationJ. H. Hitchens, D. D.John 1:14
The Person and Work of ChristW. M. Taylor, D. D.John 1:14
The Purpose of the IncarnationT. Lewis.John 1:14
The Relation of the Incarnation to Modern ProblemsProf. Patton.John 1:14
The Relations of the IncarnationJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 1:14
The Significance of the IncarnationBp. Huntington.John 1:14
The True Tabernacle and its GloryC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:14
The True Tabernacle, and its Glory of Grace and PeaceCharles Haddon Spurgeon John 1:14
The Ward Made FleshT. R. Howat.John 1:14
The Word Made FleshJ. Garbett, M. A.John 1:14
three Tabernacles'Alexander MaclarenJohn 1:14
Voluntary SympathyH. O. Mackey.John 1:14
Why God Became ManA. Maclaren, D. D.John 1:14
Why was the Incarnation DelayedJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.John 1:14
A New Year's GuestC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:12-14
Adoption and JustificationDr. Guyse.John 1:12-14
Believing is Receiving ChristJ. H. Wilson.John 1:12-14
Christ Must be ReceivedH. W. Beecher.John 1:12-14
Comfort for the DyingR. Besser, D. D.John 1:12-14
Faith and its Attendant PrivilegesC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:12-14
Faith is ReceivingC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:12-14
Man's Part in the AdventBishop Huntington.John 1:12-14
Not of BloodTholuck.John 1:12-14
Not of the Will of ManJ. Vaughan, M. A.John 1:12-14
Privileges of AdoptionJohn 1:12-14
Receivers and SonsJohn 1:12-14
Receiving Christ and Becoming SonsS. Martin.John 1:12-14
Receiving the LightJ. Edmond, D. D.John 1:12-14
Reception of Christ Our Introduction into SonshipH. Bonar, D. D.John 1:12-14
Sonship More than AdoptionJ. Calross, D. D.John 1:12-14
St. John's First View of Christ the Key to His GospelW. G. Blaikie, D. D.John 1:12-14
That Act by Which We Do Effectually Apply Christ to Our Own SoulsJohn 1:12-14
The Being Born of Blood and of God ConsideredLange.John 1:12-14
The Connection Between Receiving Christ and Becoming SonsC. C. Tittman, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Grace of Christ to Those Who Received HimA. Beith, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Higher GenerationH. W. Watkins, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Honour of AdoptionC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:12-14
The NewP. Schaff, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Simultaneity of Faith and RegenerationBishop Ryle.John 1:12-14
The Spirituality of ReligionJ. Parker, D. D.John 1:12-14
The Three Negations IllustratedG. Cornish.John 1:12-14
The Treasure UnreceivedSunday School ChronicleJohn 1:12-14
Three Great NegationsJ. Vaughan, M. A.John 1:12-14

The parenthesis in this verse is remarkable as written in the first person. There must be a reason for the evangelist's departure from his ordinary practice of writing in the narrative style. It seems that John was so impressed by the solemnity and value of the witness he was bearing, that he was constrained to break his own rule, and. to speak explicitly of what he himself had actually seen, and of what he himself had come firmly to believe. Regarding this parenthesis only, we find here the record of personal observation, and, in closest connection therewith, the declaration of personal conviction.

I. THE STATEMENT OF THE WITNESS. "We beheld his glory."

1. John and his fellow apostles knew Christ in his humanity - in the "flesh" as the expression is in this passage.

2. They knew him as he "tabernacled" among them. John and Andrew, when the Baptist directed their attention to Jesus, inquired of him, "Where dwellest thou?" and at his invitation visited him and abode with him. The writer of this Gospel enjoyed peculiar opportunities of acquaintance, nay, of intimacy, with the Prophet of Nazareth, whose beloved disciple he became. If one human being ever knew another, John knew Jesus; he not only was constantly with him, his disposition and character rendered him specially fit for judging and appreciating him.

3. John and his colleagues bore witness that they recognized their Master's "glory." Why is such language used? Why his "glory"? He was a peasant woman's Son, and remained in the condition of life to which he was born. There was nothing in his garb, his appearance, his associations, the outward circumstances of his lot, which, in the view of men generally, could justify such an expression. These men must have had their own conception of "glory." As spiritual Hebrews, they had a noble idea of the majesty, the righteousness, the purity of God, and also of the moral splendour of the Divine Law. Thus it came to pass that, enlightened by the Spirit, they discerned glory where to the eyes of others there was only humiliation. They saw the moral glory of purity and benevolence in the Lord's Person and character, in the "grace" which he displayed in dealing with suppliants and penitents, in the "truth" which he uttered and embodied. They could not fail to remark the glory of his miracles, of his transfiguration, of his victory over death, of the manner in which he quitted the earth in which he had sojourned. All this, as intelligent and sympathetic witnesses, John and his companions beheld, and to this they testified.

II. THE INFERENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN. The glory was "of the Only Begotten of the Father." They knew well that the world to which Jesus came needed a Divine Saviour. Such a Saviour they were encouraged by the word of prophecy to expect. And their familiarity with the character and the mission of Jesus led them to hail the Son of man as Son of God. If Jesus were not the Only Begotten of the Father, how could they account for the facts of his ministry, for the authority he wielded, the claims he made? He had called himself the Son of God; he had lived like the Son of God; he had wrought the works of God. He had been addressed as the Son of the living God, and had accepted the appellation. Were the disciples to forget all this; to persuade themselves that they had been in a mist of bewilderment; to give up their deepest convictions, their purest and most ennobling beliefs? If not, then they must needs assert their belief that the glory they had seen was that of the Only Begotten of the Father. The same inference is binding upon us. To deny of Jesus what John here affirms of him is to leave the Church without a foundation, the heart without a refuge, the world without a hope. If Christ be not what John represents him as being, then the world can never know and rejoice in a full and personal revelation of the supreme mind and heart and will. It may be said that this is the misfortune of humanity, and that it must be accepted as inevitable. But the text points out to us a better way. The sincere and impressive language of John encourages us first to realize to ourselves the unique moral majesty of Jesus, and then to draw from this the inference which he and other witnesses of Jesus' character and life drew so firmly and conclusively - the inference, namely, that he was none other than the Son of God, deserving of human reverence and faith, love and devotion. The witness of Christ's companions we cannot reject. Their convictions concerning their Master and Friend we are abundantly justified in sharing. If we have a heart capable of appreciating the Saviour's moral glory, we shall not be without guidance in estimating the justice of his claim to superhuman dignity - to Divine authority. - T.

The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
I. THE DESIRE. The desire of a Saviour had attained its maturity in the period of universal decline which preceded the Advent. This desire was a prophecy of its own satisfaction because inspired, nourished and developed by the God to whom the heart addresses itself. A child is born called Jesus whose name announces all that He came to do. What do men say about Him?

1. That He is a fabulous symbol of that union of man with God realized in the development of reason. But if this be the case why has man desired one outside of his own reason? What meaning is there in the history of religions.

2. That He was a great social reformer. But His gospel is profoundly spiritual and traces all external reform to inward moral renovation. But is man's heart satisfied with the idea of a social reformer? Had Christ swept away every social abuse and satisfied every national need, the human heart would still have yearned for a Saviour.

3. That He was a philosopher, the Socrates of Jerusalem. But man does not need such. The ancient world had more than it required. It had the greatest and purest of sages, but found no rest in their schools. Man desires something higher, shall his Christ then be —

4. A prophet? Prophets will not avail, for the greatest have most ardently desired a Saviour and were but men.

5. An angel? No, or Mary would have seen Him in Gabriel. Angels could celebrate His birth but not take His place. Turning now to the desire we shall see that man's cry has been for a God-Man.Two well-defined sentiments enter with it.

1. The hope of finding God. For this alone has man passed from one religion to another.

(1)This God not the inert and isolated God of philosophy, lost in the solitudes of heaven: but

(2)a living, present God.

2. The sorrow of condemnation. Man longs to appease a justly offended God. He therefore offers sacrifice, the produce of his fields, the first-born of his flocks, nay, his child, his brother. But it avails nothing. A sacrifice must be found that is both pure and human. For many ages man has sighed for an incarnation in order to redeeming sacrifice. This is what has been promised. Ancient prophecy recognized in the Messiah's person the man and the God, the Victim and the King.

II. THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE DESIRE. "The Word was made flesh."

1. What is this but that before He existed in God as a personal being. Had the Word been a Divine virtue or influence, it would had in it nothing special or distinctive, and therefore could have been no Saviour. Nor could it have communicated the knowledge of the true God. "God is love." A God who did not love would be a God dead. But how should God be from all eternity, a God of love, if He had no object for His love? Where, then, will you find this object if not in that Word which is God, and yet is distinct from Him. The Son gives as the Father.

2. He shows us the living nature of God's revelations. A perfect revelation of the living and eternal God is living and eternal as Himself: the express image of the Father. Each utterance has life like the Word Himself. God has spoken

(1)In Eternity, and His Word is His only Son,

(2)In Time, and Creation was the echo of the Word.

(3)In Revelation, and each of the syllables of the Word was a fact of mystery.

(4)In redemption and now the Word is made flesh.While giving full weight to His Divinity, let us not attenuate His humanity. The one is as necessary to our salvation as the other. By being Man and yet one with the Father, He was able to consummate on the cross His redeeming sacrifice, drawing the heart of man to God and the heart of God to man.


1. The history of Jesus shows us Divinity and humanity united in His person. His personal humiliation from the manger to the cross side by side with the glory of His morals and perfect character.

2. Jesus was conscious of and professed His union. He speaks of Himself as the Son of Man and the Son of God; and insisted on His oneness with the Father.

3. The apostolic Church confirmed this doctrine, proclaiming His Divinity and worshipping Him.

IV. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS DOCTRINE. Christianity stands or falls with it.

1. For whose sake do the impugners of the doctrine deny it?(1) For the sake of God? But the Deist gives us instead of the living, consummate God an abstract and distant Divinity. We don't know where to find Him, and He has never dried a single tear nor gladdened a heart. Thus God is libelled and His cause compromised.(2) For the sake of man? But man has desired this God-Man: He only has blessed the race.

2. If what the impugners say is true, Christianity is an imposture and Christ a deceiver. And yet He is admitted to be the noblest of Beings. Let these considerations be weighed.

V. CHRISTIANS ARE ENTRUSTED WITH THIS DOCTRINE. Let it not slumber in creeds, but be preserved in a living faith and communion.

(E. de Pressense, D. D.)

1. There was nothing great about Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). It was but a shepherd village or small town, yet here the great purpose of God became a fact. It is in facts that God's purposes come to us that we may take hold of them as realities. The city is poor, but its lowliness makes it more suitable as the birthplace of Him who though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor. And all about it seems to suit Him. It is "the house of bread," fit dwelling for Him who is the Bread of God: Ephratah "the fruitful," as if pointing to the fruitful One.

2. It is not named in the text; but you cannot read the latter without being transported to it.

3. At Bethlehem our world's history began, for His birth has influenced all history, sacred and secular, before and behind. As regards our text, let us see —

I. WHAT IT IS. Christ, Immanuel, Jesus, are our Lord's names in time; but "Word" and "Son" are expressive of His eternal standing. The inaccessable Godhead becomes approachable, the incomprehensible, comprehensible. All the nations of the earth God hath made of one blood, and of that one blood the Word was made partaker. Thus Bethlehem becomes a link between heaven and earth. God and man must meet here and look each other in the face.

II. WHAT IT TEACHES. God's thoughts of peace. The message is a decided but not a finished one. You must associate Bethlehem with Calvary.

1. Would you learn the way to God? Go to Bethlehem: the Infant in the manger is the way.

2. Would you learn the vanity of earth? Go to yon manger where the Lord of Glory lies.

3. Would you hays a safeguard against worldliness and sin and error? Keep the child's companionship.

4. Would you learn to be humble? Go to Bethlehem; there the Highest is lowest.

5. Would you learn self-denial? See the Word made flesh.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

This Gospel contains no record of the Nativity like the others. They record the fact, this the underlying principle of the fact. Unless you take John's point of view, you cannot understand Luke's story.

I. THE FACT ITSELF. Three things:

1. The Word: personal, eternal, Divine, the active energy of the Divine Nature.

(1)The Author of creation.

(2)The Source of all life and light.

(3)The medium of all revelation.

2. With the audacity which is the true work of Divine revelation, the text draws together the two discordant ideas "Word" and "flesh"; not this tremulous, feeble, mortal body with its needs, weaknesses, pains, desires, corruption, not the whole humanity, body, soul, spirit, the entire sweep and range of what a man is.

3. How He "became" it; which involves the willing transformation, by the energy of the Person Himself. Became — not assumed. It was not a transcient manifestation such as the Buddhist incarnation or Hindoo avatar; not God coming down in the likeness of men for a moment or two; but so becoming us, He ceased to be the Word. So the living heart of Christianity is supernatural. That round which it turns is the biggest of all miracles, and if you take that all the rest is natural.


1. To show God. As the Shekinah glory abode in the Tabernacle, so God tabernacled in Christ's flesh. Christ shows God as He was never seen before, full of grace and truth. The mightiest and brightest light that makes God known, is that of gentleness, tenderness, self-oblivlon, patience. If you want to know God, and not to guess Him, not to shrink from Him, and not merely to see the fringe of brightness about the Infinite heart, you must turn away from everything else to Christ.

2. To show what man ought to be. How perfect Christ's example is we may gather from the admission of enemies, from our own hearts and consciences. Instead of being handed over to a mere law "Do this and live," it means "Do as I do, because I love you and you love Me."

3. That He might die. You cannot understand Christmas without Good Friday, the meaning of the cradle unless we see the shadow of the Cross. Christ came to bear our sins that we might be born again unto newness of life.

4. That He might have sympathy with us. He has trodden all the road before us, and is near us to help us on.

5. That manhood might be glorified. He has stooped down that thereby He might befit us to be like Him. Where He is, He will lead us. What He is, He will make us.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)


1. THE PERSON ASSUMING. The Word, i.e, the second Person in the most glorious Godhead, called the Word, either because He is the Scope and principal Matter, both of prophetical and promissory Word; or because He expounds and reveals the mind and will of God to men (ver. 18).

2. THE NATURE ASSUMED flesh, i.e, the entire human nature, consisting of a true human soul and body (Romans 3:20; Genesis 6:12). The word flesh is rather used here than man, on purpose to enhance the admirable condescension and abasement of Christ; there being more of vileness, weakness, and opposition to Spirit in this word than in that, as is pertinently noted by some. Hence the whole nature is denominated by that part, and called flesh.

3. THE ASSUMPTION ITSELF. Not fuit, He was (as Socinus would render it, designing thereby to overthrow the existence of Christ's glorified body now in heaven) but factus est, it was made, i.e, He took or assumed the true human nature into the unity of His Divine Person, with all its integral parts and essential properties, and so was made or became a true and real Man by that assumption. The Apostle, speaking of the same act (Hebrews 2:16), uses another word, fitly rendered "He took on Him," or He assumed: which assuming, though inchoative, it was the work of the whole Trinity, God the Father, in the Son, by the Spirit, forming or creating that nature; as if three sisters should make a garment betwixt them, which only one of them wears; yet terminative, it was the act of the Son only; it was He only that was made flesh. And when it is said, He was made flesh, misconceive not, as if there was a mutation of the Godhead into flesh; for this was performed, not by changing what He was, but by assuming what He was not. As when the Scripture, in a like expression, saith, He was made sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and made a curse (Galatians 3:13), the meaning is not that He was turned into sin, or into a curse; no more may we think here the Godhead was turned into flesh, and lost its own Being and nature, because it is said He was made flesh.

II. THIS ASSERTION STRONGLY CONFIRMED. He dwelt among us, and we saw His glory. This was no phantasm, but a most real and dubitable thing. For He pitched His tent or tabernacled with us. And we are eye-witnesses of it (1 John 1:1, 2, 3).

(J. Flavel.).

Preacher's Analyist.
I. CHRIST'S HUMILIATION. He took the whole nature of man.

1. That He might suffer.

2. That He might obey the law of God in the nature that had broken the Law.

3. That He might die. He could not have died without a body. He could not suffer death while in His Father's bosom.

4. That He might sympathise with men (Hebrews 2:17).

II. CHRIST'S CONDESCENSION. "He tabernacled," as in a tent. He lived on earth for a time, just as a man might live. The word is used particularly —

1. As a reference to the tabernacle of old. This was a meeting place between God and His people. Such was Christ. Through Him a just God can meet the sinner.

2. It intimates His condition. A tent is an inferior dwelling to a house or a palace. Christ went about from place to place, and had not where to lay His head. He was dependent upon others for His rest and food.

3. It sanctifies affliction. No one need be ashamed of his poverty, since Christ was poor.

III. CHRIST'S GLORY. Amid all His humiliation, His glory burst forth and manifested itself — "We beheld," etc. Clad as our Saviour was in the garments of a man, it was impossible entirely to veil His higher nature. Neither was it advisable. It was necessary that the world should know that He was God. His Divine glory was constantly manifesting itself — when the star led the wise men — when He taught the doctors in the Temple — when He healed the sick and raised the dead. But the chief glory was only visible to spiritual eyes.

1. Divine wisdom. The world considered His wisdom to be folly. It was not His outward manifestation, not His miracles or acts, but the plan of salvation, and the scheme He accomplished when He said, "It is finished."

2. Divine love. There is more glory in the love of God than in all the universe of material creation. This can only be discerned by the eye of faith. When a sinner is brought to find peace, he realises the glory of Christ. We have seen. Have you seen?

IV. CHRIST'S FULNESS. "Full of grace and truth." Hence His glory need not deter us from coming to Him.

1. Full of grace, i.e, He is easy to approach, merciful, loving, gracious, in aspect and nature.

2. Full of truth. Himself the truth. Hence we have a firm foundation for our faith. All Christ does is true. His pardon is a true pardon. His promises are true, etc.

(Preacher's Analyist.).

I. THAT MAN MAY POSSESS A FULL AND FAITHFUL REVELATION OF GOD'S CHARACTER. Jesus became a medium through whom the dazzling attributes of Deity were modified, and a focus in whom the infinite perfections of Diety were centred.

II. THAT THERE MAY BE A PERFECT EXAMPLE. Precept will often fail, when example will succeed. Christ was made like His brethren that they might be stimulated to be like God.


IV. THAT MANY MAY HAVE A SYMPATHETIC AND POWERFUL MEDIATOR at the right hand of God. Conclusion: Jesus is a perfect Saviour — perfect in His power to save, being able to save to the uttermost; perfect in His willingness to save, declaring that whosoever cometh unto Him, He will in no wise cast out; perfect in His sympathy, knowing our frame, remembering that we are dust, and declaring that He will carry the lambs in His arm, and deal with peculiar kindness with those in special trials; perfect in His wisdom, knowing His sheep and knowing the way that they take; perfect in His faithfulness, being the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and promising never to leave nor forsake His own disciples. He is a perfect Saviour because in Him dwelt and dwells the fulness of the Godhead.

(J. H. Hitchens, D. D.)

I. THE DIGNIFIED CHARACTER WHO WAS MADE FLESH. 1.The Word partakes of the same nature and perfections as the Father and Spirit.

(1)Eternity (Micah 5:2).

(2)Omniscience (John 21:17).

(3)Omnipresence (Matthew 28:20).

(4)Immutability (Hebrews 13:8).

2. This dignified Person was made flesh.

(1)He had a true body, not merely the appearance of one.

(2)He had a reasonable soul.

(3)All the Persons of the Trinity were concerned in His Incarnation. The Father prepared His body; the Spirit formed it; the Son assumed it.

3. He dwelt among us —

(1)Performing the most astonishing miracles;

(2)Preaching the most interesting truths;

(3)Living the most holy life.


1. That ancient prophecy might be fulfilled (Genesis 3:15; Deuteronomy 18:15; Isaiah 9:6; etc.).

2. That the glorious perfections of Deity might be displayed — the glory of God's infinite wisdom, almighty power, unspotted purity, inflexible justice, boundless compassion, inviolable truth. Hence angels and men combine in singing "Glory to God in the highest."

3. That captive sinners might be redeemed.(1) By nature man is a spiritual slave.(2) Christ became incarnate to redeem him from —

(a)Sin. "Sin shall have no more dominion, etc."

(b)Satan. "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet."

(c)The world. "This is the victory, etc."

(d)Wrath. "Who hath delivered us from the wrath to come."(3) Jesus redeems us by His blood (1 Peter 1:18, 19).(4) In the day of conversion, the believer experiences His redemption.(5) Christ redeems us to His image, His grace, His heaven (Psalm 86:11).

4. That the righteous law of heaven might be honoured.

5. That the empire of Satan might be ruined.

6. That the gates of paradise might be opened. We learn the amazing condescension of the Saviour. Consider —

(1)From whence He came;

(2)To whom;

(3)The circumstances in which;


(T. Lewis.)

(text in conjunction with Ephesians 3:17): — There are two births of Christ — one unto the world, the other into the soul. Men think more of the former than of the latter and celebrate it every year; but the latter is equally momentous. The soul has its births; the rising into conscious existence of every latent sentiment, filial, connubial, parental, Christian.

I. THE ANALOGY between those two Incarnations.

1. Both result from Divine interposition.

2. Both create great epochs; the temporal advent was the crisis of history. The B.C. meets in it, the A.D. starts from it. And from the Spiritual advent all after life takes its date and derives its impulse.

3. Both awaken antagonism, the former Herod's hostility, etc., the latter that of the depraved nature.

4. Both are manifestations of God.


1. The one may become a curse to man, the other must be a blessing. Nothing so terrible to a lost soul as the former. It aggravates the world's guilt and augments its responsibility. The latter brings sunshine to the soul and ever advancing blessedness.

2. The one occurred without man's choice, the other requires his seeking.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Christmas day is the greatest birthday of the year.

I. It is THE BIRTHDAY OF CHRIST. The greatest man, teacher, benefactor, but immeasurably more than this. Men have misconceived and misstated the Incarnation; that two persons were united in Christ instead of two natures in His single person; that the infinite Being was confined within the finate nature which He assumed; that God ceased to be really Himself; that human nature was annihilated by its union with Deity. It was inevitable that the possibility of the Incarnation should be questioned; but what is man but a sample, at an immeasurably lower level of a union of two totally different substances, one material, the other immaterial, under the control of a single human personality? As the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ. And He who could bring together matter and Spirit in man might surely raise both matter and spirit to union with His own Divinity under the control of His eternal Person. But what moved God to unite Himself with a creative form? Is not such an innovation on the association, if not on the conditions of His Eternal Being? Yes, but so was Creation, and Creation involved possibilities which led to much else beyond. It involved the possibility of the fall. And then as God must have created out of love, so out of love He must bring a remedy to the ruined creature. Of other remedies nothing has been told us, but we know that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

II. THE BIRTHDAY OF HUMAN GREATNESS. Man has alternately depreciated and exaggerated His importance. Just now the deprivatory account is the popular one. It is no longer possible; we are reminded to think of this earth as the centre for whose benefit all else exists. It is only a small satellite of the sun while the sun is but one of thousands of stars which are moving round some undiscovered centre. The insignificance of man's dwelling-place involves its own insignificance. And this impression is deepened by the vicissitudes to which men are exposed, and the cheapness of human life. But apart from Christianity nature also opens out another side to the matter. When we look at any one man, however feeble and worthless, we become conscious of his having some title to a profound and anxious interest. Here is a man who, before he became a criminal, threaded his way unnoticed through the crowd; but put upon his trial for his life he becomes a centre of universal interest. Why, if he is only an animal, should the question of his life be followed more anxiously than that of an ox or a sheep? Men are thus moved because a destiny is being weighed in the balance and at such moments the depreciatory theory of man's nature and origin gives way. The poor prisoner in the dock represents the ineffaceable, indestructible greatness of man. Still men's judgment about himself rises and falls with the varying circumstances of his life and modes of his mind. Left to himself he has no solid ground of confidence in any estimate he may form. To discover the greatness of his need and capacities, he requires some standard utterly independent of himself. Such he finds in the Incarnation which, uniting, his nature to that of the Being who made Him, restores to man his self-respect, and makes him feel his moral poverty without God and his utter dependence upon Him. Think of our Lord's life from this point of view, of putting such high and exceptional honour on our nature. The moral beauty of which mankind is capable appeared in Jesus as it never appeared before or since. But we can only surrender ourselves to its power when we admit that it is the life of the Word made flesh. A man might have uttered the Beatitudes, but as mere man, being modest and truthful, could have said, "I and my Father are one." All, however, fall into place if He is the God-Man. Embrace this truth and it is not hard to understand how His death on Calvary availed for the world's redemption. Nor does it matter that His life was lived on a small planet. Since the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, the vastest stars and suns have no more claim, on account of their size, to His regard. When He became man to elevate and redeem the human family He chose the scene where the Divine work would be best achieved.

III. THE BIRTHDAY OF HUMAN BROTHERHOOD. At the manger of Bethlehem we may dare to look forward to that union of human love, of human hearts, of which the noblest of our race have ever dreamed, a brotherhood sometimes recommended as abstract argument, sometimes dictated by revolutionary terrorism, but which, to be genuine, must be a perfectly free movement of human hearts and wills drawn towards each other by supreme attraction. That attraction we find in the Divine child of Bethlehem, born that He might regenerate the world, and all the courtesies and kindnesses of Christmas between families, households, rich and poor, old and young, are rightly done in His honour who came to unite us to each other in union with Himself.

(Canon Liddon.)

I. THE DOCTRINE OF GOD. The soundest, shortest argument for the Being of God is Christ. God is in nature; but nature is dumb. "No speech, no language, their voice is not heard." But in the Word God has spoken. The Incarnation teaches Theism by teaching us more than Theism. God is something more than the constructor of this curious clock. What comfort do we get from the conception of an infinite brain? Add the Incarnation to Theism and we have peace, "Ye believe in God, believe also in Me." But does not my own nature teach me that God is good? Yes, but Christ corroborates the testimony of our moral nature. The avatars of India and the Apotheoses of Greece are only efforts of the mind to anticipate this great doctrine of Christianity. The sense of guilt and longing for reconciliation may have produced these myths. But that does not prove that the subjective state was a superstition. The ability to appeal to the historic facts concerning the life of our Lord is the strongest confirmation of the truth of our religious instincts. We can proceed by way of philosophy and prove our need of a Saviour, and by way of history prove the fact of a Saviour who reveals the nature and fatherhood of God.

II. TO THE IRRELIGIOUS THOUGHT OF THE AGE. That is marked by a tone of serious, disheartened scepticism. Yet the Positivist tries to keep his religion after he has denied his God. What he teaches as a substitute for the Gospel is taught by the Gospel itself, is the only form in which it is worthy of a moment's consideration. If he would worship an ideal humanity, he must take Christ. If he would see an example of "altruism" he must take Christ's atonement. But infidelity must go back to Christ or forward to despair. When a man has discarded the eternal hope in Christ it is not strange that he should ask "Is life worth living?" Christ or Pessimism, the gospel of hope or the gospel of despair, salvation or suicide are the sharp antitheses presented by modern thought.

III. TO APOLOGETICS. Applying to Scripture the argument of design, we conclude that it was constructed on a plan which must have existed in a single mind before it was executed in the progressive publication of the separate books. The Incarnation gives to the Bible its unity. The Old Testament is a congruous body of doctrine culminating in Christ; the New Testament is a coherent body of doctrine culminating around the Person of Christ. The doctrine is woven in the very texture of the sacred books. How did this happen? The advanced thinkers will not ask us to believe that organisms grow by chance. The intelligence that built the world, made the Bible.

IV. TO THE DOCTRINE OF GRACE. The paradox of the Bible is the severity with which God looks on sin, and the tenderness with which He regards the sinner. Is there any way in which this dual relationship can be brought into conspicuous pre-eminence? Yes; the Incarnation is God's testimony to His love for man and to His respect for law. He who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. The atonement is therefore based upon the Incarnation. Advanced thought a short time since founded the hope of the universal forgiveness on the fatherhood of God. Now it preaches that man is under law to an extent which makes it idle to speak of forgiveness. Sin and suffering are inseparable, they say, and thus those who preached a gospel of love without law, now preach a gospel of law without love. Liberalism does not know how to reconcile these ideas, and by rejecting the Incarnation has rejected the only method of reconciliation.

V. TO RELIGIOUS COMMUNION. A man may be a Christian who does not accept all the doctrines of the creeds. It is equally clear that a man who denies all cannot be invited to the Lord's table. Where then shall we draw the line? Here. The acceptance of this doctrine draws towards Christ; its rejection separates from Him by an impassable gulf? The man who worships the Lord Jesus as God, and gives Him the homage of his heart is a Christian, although he may not accept the Athanasian statement. The same principle determines our relations with . It is not necessary to abate any of our antipathy to her errors, but a church must not be refused a place in Christendom which holds the Incarnation and related doctrines.

VI. TO THE FUNDAMENTALS OF RELIGION. Any religion which is to take permanent hold upon the world must offer a theory of the universe and tell me whence I am and whither I am going; must prescribe a code and teach morality; must stir the emotions and take hold of the heart; Christianity unites these three ideas in the Incarnation.

VII. TO PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN LIFE. The incarnate life of Christ stands in close relation to the development of Christian character. That development is gradual, and is concurrent with the study of Christ. And to study Him is to know that He is Divine. If we study the great principles which constitute His doctrine we hear the voice of one who spake as never man spake. So comprehensively, so minutely, so influentially. If we study His example there is that which proclaims His Divine perfections; and yet His human, helpful, imitable brotherhood.

VIII. TO CHRISTIAN WORK IN RELATION TO THE EVANGELIZATION OF THE WORLD. The book of Acts is the second volume of the life of Christ, the first being an account of all Jesus "began." The Incarnation, then, was but the beginning of a great career which is still in progress. It is Christ who is still doing the evangelization of the world. This is the only true basis of missionary confidence, and the continuously fulfilling prophecy of the final victory.

IX. TO MAN'S PLACE IS THE SCALE OF BEING: correcting the depreciation of man by science and the exaggerated dignity conferred upon him by Pantheism. He is neither an insignificant atom nor God. The Incarnation shows his reconciliation, not identity with God, and his glorious and elect creatureship.

X. TO THE PURPOSES OF GOD. We know not what we shall be, but we know that we shall be like Him. And He is the same to day, yesterday, and for ever. The perpetuity of Christ's human nature is the guarantee of an immortalized personality° And our individual interest in Jesus will not prevent us sharing the enthusiasm we may rightly feel concerning the destiny of His Church. The marriage of God and man eighteen hundred years ago is but the prophecy of a day when the bells of heaven shall ring in the nuptials of a ransomed Church with her royal spouse.

(Prof. Patton.)

Millions throughout the world hail the annual return of Christmas not because of its festivities, but because it commemorates the birth of Jesus. Class Jesus, as some do, with Plato and Shakespeare, and He would receive no more honour than they. This exuberance of feeling is due to the belief that He is divine. Whence does this belief spring? From the Scriptures. But all people do not accept the Bible; we have therefore to move along other lines of argument. And Christians may find their faith strengthened by finding the conclusions reached by the Bible arrived at by other roads.

I. AN INCARNATION OF GOD IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE. No doubt it involves a miracle. The process by which the two natures were united in one person is wholly mysterious. But so is that by which spirit and matter, mind and body combine in man. But if the one is not impossible, why the ether? We are not now dealing with the limited powers of men but with the omnipotence of God; and what the Almighty chooses in His wisdom to do, even if it be to assume a human form, He can do.


1. It has always been expected and desired, and the expectation has been expressed in every possible way — in fable, philosophy, religion.

2. This instinct is natural. Man cannot be satisfied with the manifestations of God in nature. They leave the soul with vague, restless desires after a more perfect acquaintance. At best they give a God for philosophers, for the intellect, not one who has influence over life, moulding and fashioning the heart.

3. These two facts point to an incarnation. For who created the desire? God Himself. And shall He who creates the capacity leave it unsatisfied?


1. He is the only perfect Man who has ever trod this earth. This is the confession of friends and foes of His own day and ours. How is this to be accounted for? Not by surrounding influences. There was nothing in His age, home, or contemporaries calculated to produce a perfect man.

2. All His actions and words are in harmony with the idea that He was the Word made flesh. His wonderful birth is succeeded by a wonderful life.

(W. Braden.)

I. The Incarnation in relation to MAN.

1. It shows the dignity of the human body. The material part of our nature has been maligned in every age; but ever since the incarnation it has been respected more and more. "Matter is essentially evil," said the Greek philosopher. "Whoso layeth his hand on a human body toucheth heaven," said Novalis and Carlyle. The incarnation took place between these utterances.

2. It shows the dignity of the human soul in the human body — of human nature in its totality.

3. Linking man to God it removed the antithesis between them. Something more was requisite to remove the antagonism, even the atonement. Prior to the Incarnation a wide gap divided the Creator from His creation, but the Incarnation filled it up, and did away with the antithesis. There is now not a single break in the chain of existence. From the tiniest atom to Absolute Being there is one continuous ascent.

II. The Incarnation in relation to GOD. It is a revelation of God.

1. It reveals the plurality of persons in the Divine essence. This truth is the exclusive property of the Church of the New Testament because the Incarnation is its exclusive property. The Holy Trinity existed previously, and dim prefigurations of the doctrine are noticeable in the Old Testament. But the doctrine would never have been fully apprehended but for the historic reality.

2. The Incarnation reveals the Fatherhood of God. "The glory as of the only Begotten." Deny the Incarnation and you deny the deepest Divine Fatherhood. It reveals the intrinsic Fatherhood. It shows us a Son, not by creation in time, but by generation in eternity, and consequently shows us a Father, not in virtue of His creative, but of His generative energies. By the side of this all other fatherhoods are types and figures.

3. The Incarnation reveals the redeeming character of God. Deny the Incarnation, and you have no positive proof of the Divine love; believe it, and you can never desire a higher proof. He gave His only begotten son; what more could He do?

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

There was an end sought; by what means should it be reached? There was a tremendous necessity; how should it be met? There was an infinitely gracious wonder to be wrought; in what wondrous way should it be accomplished? This was the problem. Conjectures as to its solution only serve to show that the way taken was the only way.

1. Almighty compulsion would have crushed human freedom, put human virtue aside, turned grace into magic.

2. Moral influence or persuasion would have left man's past disobedience uncancelled, the sanctities of law despised, authority abolished by Him in whom it was established. At best there would have been an invertebrate manhood, a molluscous morality.

3. Voices of audible command or promise spoken perpetually from heaven to earth would have formed a revelation as grotesque as ineffectual.

4. Written communications must have been subject to manifold hindrances and limitations as an agency of salvation, as was shown when they were actually employed.

5. A redemption by sacrifice must depend on the value of the victim sacrificed; human sacrifices would contravene all the teachings of the Divine economy touching the sanctity of human life, and of the insufficiency of the sacrifice of brutes, apart from their typical sense, the religious history of the world affords abundant evidence. We look, then, as we are bidden to look, for the reuniting power between God and man, to the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.

I. This appears in THE TWOFOLD FORM OF A FACT AND A PERSON, both being far more conclusive than any course of abstract reasoning in theodicy, or any theological demonstration. The fact and the person both take their place in the public scenery of events, in inspired Scriptures, in general history, in a line of great transactions inexplicable without them; and they have become imbedded in the experience and enshrined in the reverent and loving faith of millions of men through fifty generations. What is this fact? The life of God appears on the earth not only harmonized, but perfectly blended with the life of man. Humanity begins again with a possibility and offer of a restoration which is salvation to all who will receive it. As the life of God is in Christ, we share in it by being united to Christ. He took our human nature. The Divine nature or life was not naturally ours — it was lost. We become "partakers" of it. Each individual believer in this covenant of grace, lives eternally. Abiding in the vine, the branch lives, grows, bears fruit. Here is the certainty of immortality.


1. It is the comprehensive truth of revelation. We may take any article of the Christian creed, except those which affirm or imply the unity of God and the natural depravity of men, and attempt to separate it from this supreme and central fact, and we fail.

2. As the doctrine is comprehensive, so it is distinctive. In the ancient ethnic religions, in the Gnostic theosophies and emanations of the East, as in modern Deism, Pantheism, and Positivism, there is nothing that can be mistaken for it.

III. THE DOCTRINE OR THE FACT HOLDS A LIKE CENTRAL AND INCLUSIVE POSITION IN HOLY SCRIPTURE. There is a unity in the sacred writings, and that unity is the person of the Incarnate Word. The development of the kingdom of God among mankind follows naturally a historical method; and so Genesis comes first, with much afterwards, in the preparatory dispensations, before the birth of the Saviour. But the real "beginning," or genesis, is given in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John. From that radiant dayspring the light is reflected back to Eden, and shines forward to the Apocalypse. By this reading, innumerable difficulties, which have given superfluous trouble, disappear. The parts take their due proportions.

IV. LOOKING ONWARD, WITH THIS WARRANT, FROM OUR LORD'S ASCENSION, WE SEE THE INTERIOR PRINCIPLE OF HIS KINGDOM as it is set up among the nations and expands along the ages. Christ not only watches His family from above, He dwells and works within it. His family is His body, and His body is His bride, and His bride is His Church; and He lives in the members. What began in the past eternity proceeds in the eternity to come, and to "the Word" there is but one eternity. We see our calling. What an inheritance! What privilege! What responsibilities!

(Bp. Huntington.)

Inasmuch as God is unchangeable, and the love exhibited in Bethlehem was in Him from days of old, I make bold to affirm that He embraced the first opportunity to work out the redemption of the race. What would be the use of sending earlier when the world was not prepared to receive Him? Jesus Christ is the joint product of heaven and earth; He is God and Man; hence the necessity for both to be ready. God was ready, the Son was ready. The earth was not ready. He had to wait till humanity should be ready. The mind of man had to be prepared. Were it a mere question of love or power, He could have been sent earlier; but as it was also a question of wisdom, He must not be sent at a period likely to defeat the end in view. God could not travel faster than the conditions of humanity admitted. He must suit His pace to the tottering steps of man. It took God longer time, perhaps greater pains, to beget Christ in the human mind than to beget Him in the Virgin's womb. Four thousand years were needed to accomplish the former; but the instant it was brought to pass, "God sent forth His Son into the world, made of a woman, made under the law."

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

The Greek popular incarnations were, in the main, personifications of natural phenomena. When the court of Olympus was constituted, the conviction — universal among the Indo-European peoples — that the gods could not be strangers to men, made it natural to believe that they came down to earth from time to time. Aristotle's and Plato's triads, again were simply psychological. These philosophers resolved the unity of the human personality into a triad of principles. The Hindu Trimurtti is a classification for religious purposes of the great natural processes of creation, preservation, and destruction; and the thought of incarnation is easily linked to the idea of Vishnu, as the Preserver uses the agency of heroes or great men to deliver the race from evils by which it would otherwise be overwhelmed. The Scripture Trinity, on the other hand, is a special revelation concerning the constitution of the Divine nature. The Incarnation is based upon the ultimate fact that God is love. If we regard Christianity as a philosophy, the doctrine of the Incarnation is its essence. If we regard Christianity, practically, as salvation for fallen man, the Incarnation is the secret of its exhaustless Divine power.

(Principal Grant.)

One of the secrets of Victor Hugo's power over the French people was their memory of the following: When the disasters of the Franco-German war were falling thickly, and the iron band was closing round Paris, word came that Victor Hugo was coming to the city. He came at the very moment that the investment was complete, with the last train, the last breath of free air. On the way he had seen the Bavarians, seen villages burned with petroleum, and he came to imprison himself in Paris. A memorable ovation was given him by the people, and they never forgot his voluntary sharing of their sufferings.

(H. O. Mackey.)

The pure Godhead is terrible to behold; we could not see it and live; but clothing Himself with our flesh, makes the Divine nature more amiable and delightful to us. Now we need not be afraid to look upon God, seeing Him through Christ's human nature. It was a custom of old among the shepherds, they were wont to clothe themselves with sheep-skins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so Christ clothed Himself with our flesh, that the Divine nature may be more pleasing to us. The human nature is a glass, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ's humanity, we may behold the light of the Deity shining.

"Christ did not gain one perfection more by becoming man, nor could He lose anything of what He possessed as God. The almightiness of God now moved in a human arm; the infinite love of God now beat in a human heart; the unbounded compassion of God to sinners now glistened in a human eye; God was love before; but Christ was now love, covered over with flesh."

(R. M'Cheyne.)

Christ came down to the tabernacle of our nature which had broken down and become a ruin, and to raise it up and repair it, making it fit for the habitation of God by His own indwelling.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

The Incarnation is not true, say the Unitarians. Then it is a great pity; certainly it deserves to be true. Deny it, and the universe loses its unity and integrity; it is despoiled of much of its grandeur and poetry. According to the orthodox view a continuous path stretches from the smallest particle of matter at the very bottom of creation right up and away to the sublimest heights of the Absolute and Unconditioned — all things gathered together in one in Christ, What a grand unity! The two hemispheres of being, the Infinite and finite, wedded in one glorious orb, which is now the "Light of the World!" In this sublime unity, effected in the Incarnation, is contained the fundamental truth of Pantheism without the grave and multiform errors thereof. Here the advocates of Pantheism will find all they want, the two factors, Infinite and finite, reduced into one. Instead of a God evolving the creation out of Himself, here is a God involving Himself in the creation. Instead of the doctrine of evolution, the one developing into the many, here is the doctrine of involution, the many gathered together in the one. The Unitarian doctrine, because ever confronted with a duality of being, belittles the creation, despoils it of its grandeur and divineness; and its meagreness and poverty are a testimony against its truth. What advantage, then, hath the orthodox faith? or what profit is there of the Incarnation? Much every way. It dignifies the human body, demonstrates the potentiality of human nature, and reduces the duality of being, finite and Infinite, into an adorable unity in the indivisible person of the blessed Saviour.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

It is often thrown in the face of believers in the Incarnation that we paint human nature in colours too black, that we recklessly and unduly disparage this creature of God. But surely they who fling this taunt in our face know not whereof they speak. True, we do cherish very humble views of it; but humble views are not low views. How can we, who believe the Godhead has found room enough in it to dwell in all His inexhaustible fulness, think low of it? The Incarnation shows us its grand potentialities, and throws upon it a thousandfold stronger light than Unitarlanism possibly can. Believers in the Incarnation, therefore, burn with a quenchless desire to go and rescue poor, down-trodden, despised human nature in lands afar off. Only faith in the Incarnation can create missionaries. You demand a proof: I appeal to the story of missionary enterprise. Where is the roll of the missionaries of Unitarianism? "By their fruit ye shall know them" — systems as well as men, faiths as well as trees.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

The Incarnation of God in human form involves or foreshadows all the great truths of redemption. It teaches or implies —

I. THAT THE CONDITION OF MAN IS A FEARFUL AND EVEN DESPERATE ONE. If sin were a trivial affair God would not have so humbled Himself.

II. THAT GOD IN HIS LOVE HAS SENT DELIVERANCE. Nature does not disclose this manifestation of love. Christ incarnate shows that God has a place in His heart for the guiltiest of men.

III. THAT THE GOD-MAN WAS WILLING TO SUFFER FOR OUR SALVATION. God's beneficence has in it heart-sorrow and willingness to endure grief for love's sake. God gave His Son, but that Son was one in heart and mind with Himself. The hand that Jesus reaches down to rescue man is the hand of the Almighty. The stormy ages will be calmed only because a Divine voice has said " Peace be still." The theology taught by the Incarnation is the world's hope.

(J. H. Barrows, D. D.).

I. ITS NATURE. There are three illustrious unions m Scripture.

1. That of three Persons in one God: essentially.

2. That of two distinct natures and persons by one spirit: mystically.

3. This of two distinct natures in one Person: hypostatically.For the more distinct management of this latter I shall speak of it —

1. Negatively. When Christ assumed our nature it was —(1) Not united consubstantially as the Three Persons in the Godhead are united. They have but one and the same nature and will; but in Christ there are two natures and wills.(2) Nor physically as soul and body are united. Death dissolves that, but this is indissoluble.(3) Nor mystically, as Christ is united to believers; for they are not one person with Him.

2. Positively. The human nature was united to the Divine.(1) Miraculously (Luke 1:34, 35); which was necessary to exempt the assumed human nature from Adam's sin (Luke 1:15). For God can have no fellowship with sin, and had Christ been a sinner He could not have satisfied for the sins of others (Hebrews 7:26).(2) Integrally. Christ took a complete and perfect soul and body that He might heal the whole nature of that sin which had infected every member and faculty.(3) With all its sinless infirmities (Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 4:15).(4) So that each nature retains its own essential properties distinct, and the two understandings, wills, powers, etc., the human and the Divine are not confounded as Eutyches held.(5) Inseparably. Although Christ's soul and body were divided at death, yet neither of them from the Divine nature.


1. By virtue of this union the properties of each nature are attributed to and agree in the whole Person; so that the Lord of glory was crucified (1 Corinthians 2:8), the blood of God redeemed the Church (Acts 20:28), and Christ is both in heaven and on earth (John 3:13). Yet the properties of our nature are not imparted to the other, nor is it proper to say that the Divine nature suffered, or that the human was omniscient. But the properties of both natures are so ascribed to the one Person that it is ""proper to affirm any of them of Him in the concrete, though not abstractedly.

2. The singular advancement of Christ's human nature, it being hereby replenished with an unparalleled measure of Divine graces (Psalm 45:8), and so He becomes the object of worship (Acts 7:59).

3. The concourse and co-operation of each nature to His mediatory works, for in them He acts according to both natures. The human doing what is human, suffering, dying, etc.; the Divine stamping all with infinite value (2 Corinthians 5:19; Hebrews 9:14, 15).


1. The Divine did not assume the human necessarily but voluntarily; not out of indigence, but bounty; not because it was to be perfected by it, but to perfect it.

2. And so consequently to qualify and prepare Him for a full discharge of His Mediatorship.(1) As prophet; for as God He knows the mind and will of God (John 1:18; John 3:13); as man He is fitted to impart it to us (Deuteronomy 18:15-18 cf. Acts 3:22).(2) As priest; had He not been man He could have shed no blood; and if not God it had been no value, for us (Hebrews 2:17; Acts 20:28).(3) As king, had He not been man He had been heterogeneous, and so no fit head for us, and if not God He could not rule or defend His body the Church.

IV. Its uses.

1. Let Christians inform themselves of this momentous trust, and hold it fast against subtle adversaries.

2. Adore the love of the Father and the Son who devised this method for your recovery (Philippians 2:7; John 3:16; Hebrews 2:16).

3. Infinite wisdom has here left an everlasting mark.

4. Infer the incomparable sweetness of Christianity that shows such a foundation for the sinner's hope.

5. Union with our natures is utterly vain without union with our persons.

6. If Jesus Christ has assumed our nature, then He is touched with and has pity for our infirmities (Hebrews 2:17, 18).

7. See to what a height God intends to build up the happiness of man in that He has laid the foundation so deep in the Incarnation of His Son.

8. How wonderful a comfort is it that He who dwells in our flesh is God.

(J. Flavel.)


1. He was known by this name in the Jewish Church long before His advent.

2. He is so called because He comes forth from God like a word, a revealing medium from us.

II. THE WONDERFUL ORDER OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE TOWARDS US. This is the mighty Being by whom the world and man was made. After man had fallen He might have refused to repair the injury. But the new creation was to proceed from the same hand as the first.

1. The unsearchable love which showed itself at the beginning brought Him down again from His Father's bosom.

2. With wonderful condescension He came not as before in power and majesty, but in weakness and shame, in the likeness of the fallen creature whom it was His purpose to restore.

III. THE INCARNATION as a mark of love and tenderness HAS SOMETHING STRIKING ABOUT IT and affecting to the heart. To have taken the nature of angels — to have appeared on earth in the pomp of majesty had been a humiliation.


1. It might be inconsistent with the good of the denizens of the unseen world if their disobedience had been left unpunished. And yet, on the other hand, there was the love of God to His .creatures. How reconcile justice and mercy? Thus the perfect obedience of the Second Adam atoned for the offence of the first and of His descendants.

2. But how merit this? For all creatures owe this obedience, even unfallen angels. In the Son of God alone could the necessary merit be found.

3. Wherefore when mediator there was none God answered for us: "a body hast Thou prepared Me," etc.

4. But men required something more, something to show them how to live and to make themselves ready for their pure inheritance. Therefore to furnish an example the Word was made flesh.


VI. WE WANT SYMPATHY IN OUR WEAKNESS, INFIRMITIES, AND SORROWS; therefore that we may know that He can and does feel for us THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH.

VI. THIS ASSUMPTION OF OUR BODY BY CHRIST IS A PLEDGE OF ITS RESURRECTION, and such being the case, how we ought to reverence it!


1. Then the Christian will be like Him, for he will see Him as He is.

2. Then those who have rejected Him will meet their doom.

(J. Garbett, M. A.)

I am thinking of a word. Do you know what it is? No, not until I have told you. But as soon as I say "John," then you know the word I was thinking of. You know it now because the word was made sound, and you caught it. Were I to write it you would know it, because the word would be made ink, and you see it. Something like that is what our text means. We could not tell what God's thoughts about us were until He showed us them in a way we could understand. And He let us know them by sending Jesus Christ into the world. He took a body like ours in order that we might know God's thoughts about us; and the more we know Jesus the more we know of God's mind. He is the Word; God's thought made flesh. But then we might see and hear A word and yet not understand it. Did you ever see a Hebrew book? The letters are little, thick, squarish things, with dots all over them, as if the pen had been sputtering when it was writing I Now you could see these words, but you could not understand them by yourself. How then do we come to know Hebrew? We get some person who knows Hebrew, but who also knows English, and he teaches us. He knows the Hebrew word, and he tells us in English what it means, and so we come to learn. It is the same with the Word made flesh — with Jesus. We may see Him, may read about Him, but before we can know Him we must get help from some one who knows Jesus Christ and also knows us. Who is that Teacher? He is the Holy Spirit. Till He teaches us we cannot know God's thoughts about us; we might see the words in the Bible, might see the Word made flesh, but yet not be able to understand their true meaning, any more than we could understand a foreign book till some one had taught us the language.

(T. R. Howat.)


1. There are some who say this name was given because so many excellent words of prophecy and promise, and all of Him, are spoken in this Book — the Word objective.

2. Because he disclosed all God's counsel — the Word effective.

3. Because He cometh as the Word to teach us — the Word preceptive.

4. These are all true, but short. He is the only-begotten of the Father. As the Son is to the Father, so is the Word to the mind, They proceed both. The Son refers to a living nature, the Word to an intellectual nature. There is in Him not only the nature, but the wisdom of the Father. The Word showeth the manner, the Son the truth of His proceeding.(1) With us the Son is begot by propagation; the Word therefore was requisite to show that His proceeding was not after a carnal manner.(2) But lest we should think that God's Word is no more to Him than ours is to us, we are told that He is "only-begotten," and so of the substance of His Father.

II. FLESH and IN US is used —

1. To express His union with human flesh fully. It is part for the whole. If He abhor not the flesh: of the spirit there will be no question.

2. From the flesh came the beginning of transgression: so of all others least likely to be taken. The Word not refusing it, the rest have good hope.

3. Not man, a person; but flesh, our nature.

4. Flesh in Hebrew is the same for good tidings, suggesting that some incarnation should be good news for the world. Why the Word, flesh?(1) Surely, most kindly. The offended party was the Author of the reconciliation.(2) Most fit "all things were made by Him." He that built repaired.(3) Most in the way of justice, that He might make full amends for the flesh's fault.

III. The Word was MADE flesh.

1. Made, as against.(1) Manicheus holding that he had no true body.(2) Made, not converted into flesh, as Cerenthus, nor the flesh converted into the Word as Valentinus.(3) Not made as friends are made, who continue two several persons still, and while the flesh suffered the Word stood by and looked on as Nestorius.(4) Not made by compounding, and so a third thing produced of both, as Eutyches.

2. But by taking the seed of Abraham. His generation eternal as the Word of God is as the inditing of the Word within the heart. His generation in time, the Word made flesh, is as the uttering it forth with the voice. The inward motion of the mind taketh into it a natural body of air, and so becometh vocal; it is not changed into it, the Word remaineth still as it was, yet they two become one voice.


1. If we were so much beholden for the Word spoken, how much more for the performance; if for the Word that came to flesh, how, then, for the Word become flesh.

2. The Word, "by whom all things were made," came to be made Himself. It is more for Him to be made than to make many worlds.

3. If made, then made the most complete thing of all that ever He had made. But what is man that He should be made him, or the Son of man that He should take His nature upon Him?

4. If man, yet the man hath part — the soul.

5. What flesh?(1) The flesh of an infant — not able to speak a word.(2) How born? In a palace, cradle of ivory, robes of estate! No! A stable His palace; a manger His cradle; poor clouts His array.(3) What flesh afterward? In cold and heat, hungry and thirsty, faint and weary.(4) Is His end any better? What flesh then? Rent and torn; crowned with thorns; crucified. To be made the Head of angels a humiliation, much more lower than the angels, much more "despised and rejected of men." And why? Because He loved us.


1. A word of continuance. Not only made, but made stay.

2. Dwelt in a tent. Not a house to stand for ever, but a tent to be taken down again. He came but of an errand, to sojourn till He had done it, and being done He laid His tabernacle aside.

3. Soldiers dwell in tents. An enemy we had strong and mighty. He came as our champion; set up His pavilion among us; took the military oath with shedding of blood at His circumcision and passion. His engagement with the enemy cost Him His life, but saved ours.


1. He dwelt not invisibly or obscurely. The angels saw Him, and the wise men and the apostles, etc., etc.

2. We, not one but many.

3. We beheld: not at a blush, but at full sight, and at leisure and for long. The word is that from whence a theatre is derived; as men with good heed behold things there. So did we intentively all the acts and scenes of His life.

VII. HIS GLORY FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH. Two streams. Grace refers to the Son, truth to the Word; grace is to adopt us, truth to beget us anew. Fitly do these follow after glory. Glory terrifies. Grace invites; and His glory is such that it is full of grace; His mercy as great as His Majesty. Grace, too, as opposed to the rigour, threats, and curses of the law; and truth as set against the shadows and ceremonies of the law. Take grace from truth and it is a mere illusion; sever truth from grace and it is unpleasant.


1. Being made flesh He will be a benefactor to it. "No man hateth his own flesh." He seeth us daily in himself. And if God the Father love the Word He must love, too, our flesh which he has taken from us.

2. Being made flesh, all flesh may come to him to present their request.

3. Being made flesh, He will not suffer this of ours, the same with His, to perish, but repair it again and raise it out of the dust.

(Bp. Andrews.)


1. The origin of the expression.(1) Some have traced it to the Jewish Targums, where the angel of the Lord of the Old Testament is designated the Word of God.(2) Others to Philo, who spoke much of a semi-divine person called the Word of God.(3) Others to the phrase, "the Word of the Lord came upon him," in the prophets, understanding by that not an influence or a communication, but a person. But it is difficult to decide.

2. What is said about the Word.(1) That He was God.(2) And yet distinct from God.(3) The Creator of the universe.

3. The appropriateness of the term. He is especially the revealer of God. Deity in the abstract is unrevealed; only through the Word has He made Himself known. Not that Divine manifestations began at the Advent.(1) The external world reveals God's power and Godhead through its Maker, the Word.(2) Hence for all that men have learned from the universe they have been indebted to the Word.(3) His are the intimations of God derived through conscience and intuition.(4) All the truth that man has ever learned has been through Him who is the True Light that enlighteneth every man.

II. THE AFFIRMATION HERE MADE CONCERNING THE WORD "became flesh." The other evangelists give us the facts, St. John the soul beneath the facts. Admit the assertion of John, and all that the others say becomes perfectly natural. Deny the truth of what John affirms, and everything that they tell becomes incomprehensible. What is meant is not that He ceased to be the Word, but that in addition to what He had been He took human nature upon Him. This union of Deity and humanity conditioned both.

1. It made it necessary that the humanity should be pure; hence the peculiar manner of Christ's birth, wherein the entail of sin was broken, and His body made a holy thing.

2. It required that His Godhead should be manifested under certain limitations. The Incarnation was to man a revelation of God; to angels an inveiling of God.

III. THE PROOF WHICH IS FURNISHED OF THIS TRUTH. "We beheld." This verse is the text of the whole gospel, and each succeeding chapter presents us with some new manifestation. In the first, Christ is introduced to us by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God; in the second, He is the Temple of God; in the third, He is the glorious anti-type of the brazen serpent; in the fourth, He says, in answer to the woman's question, "I Am;" in the fifth, He is the Judge of all; in the sixth, He says: "I am the Bread of Life;" in the seventh, He is the Water of Life; in the eighth and ninth, He says twice: "I am the Light of the World; " in the tenth, He says: "I am the good shepherd;" in the eleventh, He says: "I am the Resurrection and the Life; " in the twelfth, He is the King of Zion riding in triumph to His capital; in the thirteenth, He is the perfect Exemplar; in the fourteenth, He says: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life;" in the fifteenth, He says: "I am the True Vine;" in the sixteenth, He is the Precursor of the Comforter; in the seventeenth, He is the great Intercessor; in the eighteenth, He is, by His own solem asseveration to Pilate, the King of a spiritual domain, whose fundamental principle is truth; in the nineteenth, He is the Willing Victim; and in the twentieth, He is again the Resurrection and the Life.

IV. THE RESULTS that flow from the reality of the Incarnation.

1. The reality of Christ's Deity gave sacrificial efficacy to His death on our behalf.

2. The reality of Christ's manhood assures us of perfect sympathy at His hands.

3. The union of the two makes the resources of Deity available for us.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

1. It will be quite unnecessary for us on the present occasion to entangle ourselves in any philosophical discussion of the name employed by St. John — "The Word." He who became flesh is the Word, the Revealer of God, at once Power and Wisdom, Light and Life. Creation is part of His handiwork, as the Revealer of God. In order to reveal the Father, the Word must live a man's life amongst men. This, then, is St. John's contention. By sight, and by touch, and by voice, says he, I became acquainted with a certain human life; a life, which had a peculiar charm, a special glory about it; and that glory I can only describe as the glory of a well-beloved and only son from a father. Utterance, action, suffering, all were one continuous and incessant testimony to an unseen Father in heaven.

2. Thus, then, it appears, on St. John's showing, that that which became human was truly Divine; and that which became subject to the conditions and limitations of space and time was truly Eternal. Let us endeavour to draw out one or two of the thoughts that are involved in these two statements.(1) The Divine became human. That is to say, the Divine laid hold of the human in such a way as to make the human, so far as it could be made, a true image and reflection of itself. All, then, that our faith in the Incarnation warrants us in asserting is, that in Jesus Christ we have "authentic tidings of invisible things," that in Him the Divine and human are so united and blent, that we can draw certain and reliable conclusions as to the nature of God, so far as that nature can and need be known by us. And oh! think what this means! Think what the difference is between saying, "Jesus is only a man seeking God, adding one more to the many guesses as to the nature of God:" and saying, "In Jesus we see God seeking man, and seeking him out of pure love in order to save him": "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." When we "have told its isles of light, and fancied all beyond," there must yet be heights and depths in that High and Lofty One who inhabiteth eternity which no fancy, however soaring, can penetrate. In this sense, and under such limitations as these, did the Divine become human, or the Word become flesh. If I make the Incarnation the measure not only of that in God which it is necessary for our eternal life to know, but also the measure of God Himself, I am exposing your faith and my own in the truth of the Incarnation to a very perilous strain. For my own sake, and for yours, I dare not do this.(2) As we may say, in this guarded manner, that in the Incarnation the Divine became human; so we may say also, somewhat paradoxically, that in the Incarnation the Eternal became temporal, clothed itself in forms of time and space, in order to reveal that which was before the foundation of the world, which is from everlasting to everlasting. We all know, I should suppose, how easy it is to drift into a notion about the work of Christ, which amounts really to this: that He came not to do the will of God, but to alter it. The Divine did not become human, the Word was not made flesh, if the will of the Son on earth was not at all times and in all things at one with the will of the Father in heaven; and if we may not accept the words, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God," as a full and adequate statement of the mission of Jesus Christ. The work of Christ is, in fact, the invisible becoming visible, the Eternal becoming temporal, the Infinite, finite. The Incarnation is, in short, the sacrament of the eternal grace of God; an outward and visible sign, an effectual sign, of a grace, of which time is no measure.

3. "Rejoice in the Lord alway." We can see now what the real ground of all such rejoicing is, and how solid it is. The Incarnation unlocks for us the secret of the Divine, Eternal Will, the Will which is at the root of all things, and which rules all things, and shows us that its first and last word is love.

(D. J. Vaughan, M. A.)

"The Word became flesh": such is St. John's statement. In order to understand the statement thoroughly, we must ask: First, what does St. John mean by "The Word?" And, secondly, what does he mean when he says, that "The Word was made," or "became," "flesh?" In the previous verses of the chapter St. John has been speaking of the Word, though only in the fourteenth verse does he begin to speak of the Word Incarnate. But St. John has much more to say than this. He refers all creation to the instrumentality of One whom he calls the "Word;" whom, afterwards, he calls the "Light"; and presently as Incarnate, the "Son." Moving on, step by step, St. John at this point introduces another thought. All creation is expressive; but one part of Creation is more expressive than another. Creation is not a dead level, but an ascending series. First the inorganic and inanimate world; then the living being; then the self-conscious life of man. "Things" first; then, "life": then, "light"; that is, persons, existence, self-conscious, rational and moral. "All things were made by Him." "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men." All is by the Word, expressive: but into the life which is the light of men — that is to say, which in men becomes self-conscious, intelligent, capable of reflecting the Maker's image, He, the Word, can pat more meaning, more expression, than he could into the inorganic creation; and so can render it more significant, more declaratory of the Divine thoughts, mind, and will. From the creative Word St. John passes to the indwelling Light, that "true Light, which (as he says) lighteth every man." He who is the creative Word is also the indwelling Light. He who is the fount of all being, is also the light of man's being, the illumination of reason and conscience, the son of his soul. So it has been since the Incarnation. And so it was before the Incarnation. Whatever the physical basis of life may be, the metaphysical basis of life is ever one and the same, even the Divine eternal Word. The Word, who was in the beginning, and was in the beginning with God, did not make man, as man makes a thing — a piece of furniture, or a house, or what not — turning it out of hand, and so leaving it to shift for itself. In the moment of creation He became to man the mysterious basis of that strong mysterious thing which we call life; the indwelling light, through whose guidance and illumination man might know God, and become like God. So wondrous, so subtle, so passing thought, are the ties which bind man to Him who made him! In this way, all those long ages before the Incarnation, He was in the world — a world made by Him, yet a world which knew Him not

II. And now we can safely address ourselves to the second part of our subject, and inquire what St. John means, when he says that "The Word became flesh." That the Word — being what He has been from the first, and still is, to man, the metaphysical basis of life, the indwelling light — should Himself become a man, and dwell for some thirty-three years amongst men, full of grace and truth, need not surprise us; ought to be no stumbling-block to us; has nothing incredible or unnatural about it. Certainly it would be in the highest degree unnatural and incredible and monstrous, that the Word should become man, if that Word were not, by original constitution, so intimately related to man, But once see the spiritual constitution of man in this living and life-giving Word of God, as John and Paul saw it, and the Incarnation becomes not only unnatural, but, in the highest sense of the word, natural; not merely not incredible, but eminently credible, because so entirely in accordance with man's needs, and with God's original constitution of human nature. The Light that was only inward; and, being only inward, was dimmed and almost quenched by man's darkness; must needs become outward also, in order that it may shine in all its native purity and strength, and shining thus may reveal God to man, and man to himself. And how could it thus become outward, save in a human life; that sweet and lovely and altogether exquisite human life which the Gospel pages mirror to us? There, in those pages, the inward voice of conscience becomes an outward voice also; the latter attested by the former, the former cleared and deepened and intensified by the latter. The voice of Jesus, be sure, has its echo within every one of us. On this same Rock of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, Life, and Light, we can securely build all the other truths of our most holy faith; the Fatherliness of God, the brotherhood of men, and all else that most concerns us to know and believe for our souls' health. Wherever, in human nature, there is a trace or vestige of light, there we have a manifestation of the presence of the indwelling Word, the same Eternal Word, who dwells in our souls as Light.

(D. J. Vaughan, M. A.)

And dwelt among us and we beheld His glory
The Jews in the wilderness had a tabernacle or tent, wherein they worshipped God, and there the glory of God was seen. Over the mercy seat hovered the Shechinah. A glorious light, the symbol of the Divine presence, shone ever in the sanctuary. In like manner Christ, who is "the brightness of the Father's glory," the true Shechinah, tabernacled among us. His flesh, that is, His body of human nature, was as a tabernacle, in which resided that Divine nature of which the glory in the Jewish tabernacle was the symbol. Thus the Tabernacle of God was with men, and He dwelt among us.

(G. J. Brown, M. A.)

Here is an answer to Solomon's wondering exclamation: "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? "Here is fulfilment, higher than had yet been known, of the ancient word, I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you, and anticipation of what shall yet be when the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them; and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them — their God."

(J. Culross, D. D.)

I. His OUTWARD GLORY. When a Jew heard this he must have denied it, inasmuch, as there was little in Christ which answered to his conception of Messianic glory. Yet lowly as was our Lord's life in general, there were occasional gleams of it.

1. At the Incarnation.

2. At His Baptism.

3. At His Transfiguration.

4. When the Greeks had an interview with Him.

5. At His Resurrection.

6. At His Ascension.

II. But His INTERNAL GLORY far surpassed this. Love, compassion, justice, truth. Add to these an existence which has neither beginning nor ending, and a power which nothing can resist, and this is God. And such as is the Father, such was the Son.

1. This glory is that to which man, in his fallen condition, is most blind. Offer man a Saviour crowned with visible power, or who shall secure wealth or pleasure, who would not acknowledge Him? Christ did indeed offer these. They who should come to Him should conquer sin and reign in heaven; should have spiritual riches and celestial pleasures — but who would purchase these at the price demanded?

2. Pray to God that He may open your eyes to see the glory of Christ and your glorious privilege.

(J. Garbett, M. A.)

What was it?

I. Not A NIMBUS or halo as seen in pictures, or it would never have been denied. But that of —

II. His CHARACTER and life, and therefore open moral and spiritual eyes were needed to see it.

III. His PERFECT WISDOM, which spake as never man spake.

IV. His ALMIGHTY POWER, able to minister to every need and relieve every suffering.

V. His WONDROUS LOVE, which prompted Him to go about doing good.

VI. A glory, therefore, which could only have come down from THE FATHER, and which led the disciples afterwards from the earthly Master to the heavenly Father.

(A. J. Joscelyne, M. A.)

I. LET US BEHOLD THIS TABERNACLING OF GOD WITH US. Two Divine things are more clearly seen in Christ than aught else.

1. Consider them together.(1) Grace and truth are spoken of in the concrete; not full of the news of grace and truth. Others were that. There is grace in other men; but they have it as water flowing through a pipe: He as water in its fountain. There is truth in others; but in Him dwell the depth, the essence of the fact. And both evermore abide in Him.(2) Grace and truth are blended. "And" is no common conjunction. The two rivers unite in one fulness. The grace is truthful grace; not in fiction, fancy, to be hoped for or dreamed of; but grace, every atom of which is fact, redemption which does redeem, pardon which does blot out sin, renewal which actually regenerates. The truth is gracious truth, steeped in love, saturated with mercy.(3) Grace and truth balanced. He is full of grace, but He has not neglected the sterner quality. There are many who are loving but not faithful; many sternly honest, but not kind. In Christ there is no defect either way. He does not hide the truth, however terrible; but He utters it with infinite compassion. He does not save unjustly, nor proclaim truth unlovingly.(4) These qualities in Him are at the full. In Him the immeasurable grace of God is treasured, up; and all truth about God and Divine things hath been declared by Him.

2. Take each by itself.(1) Full of grace. In Exodus 34, the glory of God lay in His grace. So in Christ. This is seen in His Incarnation; in His being made perfect through sufferings, so that He might be a sympathetic High Priest; in His life, words, and actions; in His death, as our substitute and representative; and in His union with His people.(2) Full of truth; not merely in what He said and promised, but in Himself He is the fulfilment of all the promises; the substance of all the types.(3) Full of grace and truth as dealing truthfully in matters of grace concerning our salvation; encouraging many gracious hopes which are all truthfully realized; working both in His people.


1. Let us pitch our tents around this central tabernacle, as the Israelites did round theirs.

2. Let us resort to it to obtain grace to help in time of need.

3. Let us abide in joyful, peaceful confidence in Him who is grace and truth to us.

4. Let us tell everybody about it.

5. What manner of people ought we to be among whom Jehovah dwells.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The greatest glory of the Jewish Church was thai God tabernacled in its midst. The greatest glory of the Tabernacle was the most holy place. The glory of the holy place was the Shekinah. Jesus Christ was God's Tabernacle, and the surpassing excellence of this Tabernacle is fulness of grace and truth.

I. A FAVOURED PEOPLE. Who are the we?

1. An elect company.

2. A called company. Special in the case of the apostles. General in the case of all believers.

3. An illuminated company. Christ's glory not manifest to the rest of mankind.

II. THEIR EXALTED PRIVILEGE. "Beheld His glory": not heard or read of. Many were the privileges of the disciples, but this excelled them all. How can we behold?

1. By faith.

2. Experience.

3. Communion.


1. Of Christ's complex person as God and man.

2. Of the motive for which He undertook His redeeming work.

3. Of His self-sacrifice.

4. Of His endurance and perseverance.

5. Of His triumph.


1. The only-begotten of the Father.

2. Full of grace.

3. Full of truth.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The noblest objects never disclose their best meaning at first sight. Sir Joshua Reynolds says that when he visited Italy to make the acquaintance of the celebrated masterpieces, he was much cast down. The renowned masters maintained towards him a quiet and dignified silence; they refused to confide to him their thoughts. He gazed steadfastly and could not behold their glory. Persevering, however, the pictures gradually began to raise their veils, and permit him to have an occasional peep at their rare beauty: they softly whispered to him a few of their secrets; and as he continued unwavering in his devotion, they at last flung away their reserve, showed themselves with an open face, and revealed to him the wealth of beautiful ideas that was lodged in them. As with pictures, so with characters. The diviner the life, the closer the inspection requisite to understand it. If we begin in the remote past, with Samson and Hercules, we shall not experience any very formidable difficulties in grasping the principle which fashioned their characters. The story of their lives is comparatively simple, having strength for a foundation. But as we wend our way down to later times, we come across more complex characters; new factors come into operation; and the process of analysis is harder of a successful accomplishment. But of all characters, ancient or modern, none demand so much intent gazing as that of Jesus Christ. Potences perfectly novel in the history of the world exert their subtle influence; the human and the Divine, the grace and the truth, are so closely associated, that not at once do we grasp the radical idea, and perceive its subdued, tempered beauty. The depth and manifoldness of Christ's character form the reason for the well-nigh two hundred lives and harmonies which have been launched upon the world. A difficult character to understand fully, for its beauty only grows upon us by degrees. Every age discovers a new trait; every fresh generation perceives a fresh excellence; and thus from age to age He increases in loveliness in the estimation of men. He continues to reveal to the loving earnest gaze His glory, "the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father."

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

Though the Israelites were not able to look on the face of Moses, we saw the glory of the only-begotten. No one indeed could see His glory who was not healed by His humiliation; for there had flown into man's eyes, as it were, dust from the earth; the eye itself had become diseased, and earth was sent to heal it again; the flesh had blinded man, the flesh restores him; the soul, by consenting to carnal affection, had become carnal; hence the eye of the mind had been blinded: then the Physician made for us ointment; He came in such wise, as that by the flesh He destroyed the corruption of the flesh. Thus "the Word was made flesh," that we might be able to say, "we saw His glory."

( Augustine.)

Full of grace and truth.
It was fulness in presence of the world's immeasurable need; fulness that stood in contrast with the emptiness of men. The scribe and the Pharisee, the philosopher and the guide into the paths of pleasure, the bringer forth of things new and the bringer forth of things old, whatever their pretensions, alike failed to satisfy the cravings of human hearts, so manifold and deep, and left them sighing, "Who will show us any good?" Even the sacred ordinances of the Old Covenant, out of which it was designed that with joy men should draw water as from the wells of salvation, had been turned very largely into mere outward ceremonies, and the sacred services into mere "bodily exercise " — reminding one of the process of dropping buckets into empty wells, and drawing nothing up. The Word is made flesh, and sojourns among men; and they find in Him the very fulness of the Godhead bodily.

(J. Culross, D. D.)

In the life of Jesus we see —


1. His character is such as to forbid undue familiarity. Avowed infidels, as well as Christians, feel almost reverent in its hallowed presence.

2. But He was as remarkable for His firmness. Strength is necessary to greatness. Christ possessed tenacity of purpose in an extraordinary degree. His spirit did not faint because of the magnitude of the task He undertook. He successfully stood the test of adversity and of prosperity.

II. The FEMININE AND MASCULINE VIRTUES in sweetest harmony. He was made of a woman, which explains partly those fine feminine traits discoverable in His character. Every great man, especially every poetic genius, is strongly marked by womanly softness and delicacy in countenance, feelings, life. Christ had them pre-eminently.

III. FEELINGS AND KNOWLEDGE, heart and intellect, in perfect accord. No one can read the gospels without being deeply impressed by the exquisite sensibility of Christ. There is more heart in the gospels than in all other books put together. The heart was systematically crushed under ancient forms of civilization. Sensibility was deemed a sign of weakness. Hence men were carefully trained to repress, and, if possible, eradicate all feeling. Witness stoicism. How different with Christ! In Him we witness a dignity, a loftiness, a nobility which never show to better advantage than when compared with the highest ideals of Greek culture. But at the same time He evinces a depth of emotion and delicacy of feeling quite foreign to them. The Greek impresses us with his cleverness: Christ with His greatness and goodness. The Greek sought mind in all things; taught by Christ, the Christian seeks a heart.

IV. THE ACTIVE AND PASSIVE VIRTUES in beautiful proportion. The hardest of tasks is to suffer in a right spirit. Christ taught it and practised it. No one was ever more energetic in opposition to wickedness; but what strikes us more forcibly is His unprecedented meekness under wrong; and thus He originated a new type of goodness.

V. THE REAL KISSING THE IDEAL. He realized in daily life the highest ideal humanity has ever been able to conceive, the divinest poetry and the sternest reality. Man's ideas were always far in advance of his noblest achievements; in Christ both go hand in hand.

VI. THE HUMAN GENTLY MELTING INTO THE DIVINE. — He moves before our vision in the form of a man; we look inquiringly and affectionately, and then we penetrate the outward guise and behold the inner splendour. He was a man, no doubt; but no man ever looked more like God. The character of Christ can be transferred in its integrity to the Lord of Hosts without degrading the loftiest ideal of Him.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

In classical times the prevailing form of art was sculpture. The hard stone was fetched from the rock, and carefully chiselled and elaborately polished to represent the "human form divine." Their sculpture exhibited a simplicity, a severity, a chaste grandeur which far outstrips all efforts of modern ages. Indeed, a vast change has imperceptibly stolen over the minds of men, which is seen in the fact that whereas sculpture was the prevailing form of art among the Greeks, painting is the prevailing form among Christians. We have not been able to cope with the ancients in marble, but it is generally admitted, I believe, that we have greatly surpassed them on canvas. But why has painting superseded sculpture? Because painting is more feminine, and therefore more capable of expressing the softer, gentler virtues. It is the female face of art. One may say with tolerable accuracy that fine art is the creation of Christianity. Art there unmistakably was in the world before — splendid, severe, pure, strong; but we can hardly pronounce it fine. Christianity has softened men, it has softened manners, it has softened art. The heathen ideal was truth; the Christian ideal is grace and truth.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

The glory of the Mediator consisted, not in His wisdom, by which He knew what was in man — nor in His power, to which a material universe rendered homage — but in His grace, in the kindness of His heart, in the complete and perfect benevolence of His character. In this respect He was the "brightness of His Father's glory." His heart was an overflowing fountain of love, a plenary spring of goodness, which perpetually sent forth streams of grace, to bless a barren and desert world. He is exhibited to us in this character, as the Head of the gospel dispensation, as the Founder of a new order of things, as the Author and Finisher of our faith.


1. The gracious character of the Saviour appears from the great design of His dispensation. His benevolent mind contemplated a world lost and ruined by sin; a whole race of creatures who were in rebellion against God, and exposed to the penalties of a just and righteous law. His own happiness was unaffected by the apostacy of creatures. He was in the bosom of His father. He was with God, and was God. There was nothing in His immaculate purity, nothing in His essential rectitude, or in His inviolable adherence to justice, that dictated a dispensation of mercy. The world might have perished, its inhabitants might have been lost, and His glory would have been without a stain, His felicity unimpaired. It was only the plenitude of His grace, only the promptings of infinite kindness, that induced Him to undertake our salvation. Believers are destined to a heavenly inheritance, to live with Christ, to enter into His joys, to share in His dominion, to be for ever with the Lord. He effects a great deliverance, and bestows an infinite wisdom. He is "full of grace."

2. From the means adopted to secure the design of His mission. The intensity of kindness may always be measured by the sacrifices to which it leads. What think you would be the testimony of the widow of Nain to the gracious character of our Lord? But these miracles of mercy were but the appropriate appendages to His mission; they were not its objects; they were but blessings which He scattered in His way to suffering and to death. In order that suffering on behalf of others should indicate kindness it must be voluntary. It testifies to benevolence of disposition, only in as much as it is a free-will offering. So strong was His kindness, so intense His love, so determined His compassion, that He submitted to the agonizing, the ignominious death of the cross, to accomplish the salvation of sinners. "This was compassion like a God."

3. From the characters of those whose salvation He sought. They were all sinners, but many of them were the worst of sinners. But the grace of His heart was not expended by its earthly efforts; after He ascended to glory, He manifested in an equal degree the forbearing kindness of His heart, the distinguishing sovereignty of His grace. Who would have thought that the kindness and grace of our Lord would have rested upon such a man as Saul?

4. From those supplies of grace which are afforded to the believer, from his conversion to his reception into a world of glory. The work of grace would not have been complete had it terminated with the renewal of our hearts. The life of the Saviour imparts must be sustained by the same energy.

5. From the benignant character of His religion.


1. The gracious character of the Saviour is an encouragement to sinners to come to Him.

2. The gracious character of the Saviour will aggravate the punishment of the finally impenitent.

3. The gracious character of the Saviour is a reason why His people should continually apply to Him.

4. Finally, it is the duty of Christians to imitate the example of Christ. It should ever be their aim to be "full of grace," to cherish a kind and generous disposition to others. It is not for the Christian, who has had so much done for him, and who constantly needs more, to be a selfish man.

(S. Summers, M. A.)

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