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MEDITATION XV

THE SAVING BENEFITS OF CHRISTíS INCARNATION

Let us be deeply grateful for the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Johann Gerhard

(Translated by Rev. C. W. Heisler, A.M.)

ďBEHOLD, I bring you good tidings of great joyĒ (Luke ii. 10), said the angel at the birth of our Saviour. Great indeed is the joy thus announced, aye, greater than the human mind can conceive. It was a dreadful thing for us to lie under the holy wrath of God, to be led captive by the devil at his will, and to be under sentence of eternal condemnation; but it was still more dreadful that men were ignorant of their awful condition, or utterly indifferent to it. And now the angel brings the good tidings that He hath come into the world who will free us from all these evils. He came as the Physician to the spiritually sick, as the Redeemer to the captives of sin, as the Way to those who had wandered afar off, as the Life to the dead in trespasses and sins, and as a Saviour to the lost. As Moses (Ex. iii. 10) was sent by the Lord to deliver the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, so was Christ sent by the Father to redeem mankind from the bondage of the devil. As the dove, after the waters of the flood had abated from the face of the earth, brought back an olive leaf to Noah in the ark (Gen. viii. 11), so Christ came to earth to preach peace and reconciliation between man and God. Well may we rejoice, then, and magnify the mercy of our God. What good thing will He, who loved us while we were yet His enemies (Rom. v. 8), disdaining not to take our human nature into the very closest union with His divinity, withhold from those who are partakers with Him of the same flesh? Who has ever hated His own flesh (Eph. v. 29)? How can He possibly cast us off, when by an exercise of such exalted and infinite mercy, He hath made us partakers of His own nature?

Who in most exalted thought can reach this stupendous mystery, much less express it in words? Here we have the most exalted sublimity and the basest vileness; the greatest power and the most abject helplessness; the most glorious majesty and the most inglorious weakness. What can be more sublime than God, or viler than man? Who hath more power than God, or greater moral helplessness than man? Who can be so glorious as God, and so weak as man? But that sublime power devises a plan of redemption, which unites all these elements, when infinite justice required such a union. What finite mind can grasp the greatness of this mystery? An adequate ransom, infinite in value, was demanded for manís offense, because man had turned himself away from God, the infinite Good. But what could be an adequate satisfaction to an infinite God? Therefore infinite justice takes from itself, as it were, an adequate satisfaction offered by itself, and God the Creator suffers in human flesh, lest man the work of His hands should suffer eternally. Infinite Good was offended, and no one but a Mediator of infinite power could intercede for us. And who is infinite but God only? Hence God reconciled the world unto Himself (2 Cor. v. 19). God Himself became the Mediator. God Himself redeemed mankind with His own blood (Acts xx. 28).

Who can understand this marvelous mystery? The almighty Creator had been offended, and yet the creature who had committed the offense manifested no anxiety for a propitiation of reconciliation, but He who had been offended assumed our flesh to make reconciliation for us. Man had forsaken God, and allied himself to the devil, Godís bitter enemy; and yet He, who had been thus deserted, with tender concern seeks the deserter, and most graciously begs him to return to Him again. Man had gone away from infinite Goodness itself, and had fallen into infinite depths of evil; but that very infinite Goodness, having paid an infinite price for his redemption, rescues him from those infinite depths of evil. O does not this infinite mercy exceed the highest thought of the finite human mind? Christ hath brought to our poor human nature a greater glory than it lost by Adamís sin. In Christ we receive more than we lost in Adam. Where sin had abounded, divine grace hath much more abounded. In Adam we lost our primal innocence, in Christ we receive a full and completed righteousness (Rom. v. 18). Some may justly regard the power of God as wonderful, but still more wonderful is His grace; although so far as God is concerned they are equally wonderful, because both are infinite. Others may admire the wondrous power of God in creation; but still more may we admire the marvels of His grace in redemption, although both creation and redemption alike manifest His infinite power. It was a great thing to create man in the first place, when, as yet not existing, he could deserve neither good nor ill at Godís hands; but to redeem man, when he justly merited condemnation, and to take upon Himself the punishment due for manís transgression, that seems to me a still greater thing. It is truly wonderful when we consider how God hath formed in us our flesh and our bones; but it is still more wonderful to think how He was willing to become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone (Eph. v. 30).

O my soul, give unceasing thanks to God who created thee, when as yet thou hadst no being; who redeemed thee, when through sin thou wast under external condemnation; and who hath prepared for thee joys unspeakable and full of glory, if thou by faith dost cling to Christ thy Saviour.



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