Life of Jesus

<< A Life of Jesus Little Known >>

IMAGINE the interest which the Christian world would feel in the discovery of a new Gospel, another record of the Lord’s life on earth more full than the records of the evangelists, entering more deeply into the secrets of that life, and telling many things which they leave untold. Imagine the interest in such a Gospel, if one of undoubted authenticity should be discovered. It would be read not only in our churches but in our homes. It would be reprinted in the daily papers and sold upon the streets. It would furnish exhaustless themes for sermons; it would be the subject of earnest conversation everywhere. The Christian Church would find a new impulse of life; for with the new knowledge of the Lord would come a new quickening of desire to live the life that is from Him.

Such a new Gospel is discovered, or rather is revealed, by the opening of the deeper meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures, which shows them all to be about the Lord. There must follow, with all who love the Lord, a new interest in entering understandingly into the story of His life, and a new earnestness in following in the way of life with Him.

Notice the abundant testimony of the New Testament itself to the fact that the Old Testament is about the Lord. There is the Lord’s own saying to the Jews: “Search the Scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me. . . . Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.” There is the experience of Easter day, when the Lord joined two disciples who were walking into the country, talking sadly of the things which had just occurred. And He said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. . . . And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” And later that same day He came to the disciples gathered in Jerusalem and spoke to them of the things written about Him in Moses and the prophets and the Psalms. He before had said that He came not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil; that one jot or one tittle should in no wise pass from the law till all was fulfilled. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” says the Book of Revelation. John’s Gospel declares that He was the Word made flesh.

But this testimony is general. There is other testimony in the Gospels declaring the relation of definite parts of the Old Testament Scripture to the Lord, and in many cases indicating the period or phase of the Lord’s life to which the Scripture applies.

Many times in the Gospels—more times than we realize—it is said of some event of the Lord’s life, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,” and a passage of Old Testament Scripture is quoted. We do well to notice carefully each reference of the Gospels to the Old Testament Scripture, to turn to the Old Testament and read the chapter or the Psalm referred to; for the reference shows that the Scripture cited belongs to the experience of the Lord’s life which the Gospel is relating. In effect, it says, Insert here the Old Testament Scripture. It adopts the Old Testament passage and makes it a part of the Gospel at this place. There is no incident of the Gospel which the Old Testament Scripture does not make more full. It was not till the last hours of His life on earth, that the Lord, in connection with such a reference to the Old Testament, said, “For the things concerning me have an end.”

Note a few familiar examples. Remember the day in the synagogue in Nazareth, when the Lord stood up to read: “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it is written, The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor”—and more of the same tender promise. And He closed the book, and sat down and began to say unto them, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Here is a particular chapter of Old Testament Scripture, the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, which the Lord Himself declared to be fulfilled in His ministry of teaching and healing in the towns of Galilee. As another example take the reference to Isaiah in the eighth chapter of Matthew. We read here the story of a day of the Saviour’s life, which was filled with works of mercy. Of this day it is said that “he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” The reference is the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed ?”—the chapter which sets forth in such touching language the infinite condescension of the Lord, His wonderful sympathy and patience; which shows how completely He entered into all human states, sharing all human temptations and trials, and the severity of the conflicts by which He overcame and gained the power to bring deliverance to men. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. . . . He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Insert this chapter of Isaiah at this point in the Gospel story as the cross-reference bids us to do. It reveals the Divinely tender sympathy in which the Lord walked among men, in which He received the sick and those possessed by devils who pressed about Him that day in Capernaum, and healed them. It tells how severe were the conflicts through which He gained the power to bring healing of body and soul to men. “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” We learn at what cost of inner conflict and suffering He gained the power to help the afflicted people who came to Him for help. How much of inner conflict and laying down of life was involved in the apparently simple act of laying His hands upon the lepers, of speaking the word of command and casting out the devils!

Another example, where the Old Testament reference not only makes more full the picture presented in the Gospel, but explains an incident, and with it several similar incidents which without the explanation are hard to understand. In the twelfth chapter of Matthew we read that great multitudes followed Jesus, and He healed them all; “and,” it is added, “charged them that they should not make him known.” Why this charge not to tell of His wonderful works and make known His power? and why the charge presently to tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ? nor to tell of the vision of His glory seen on the mountain of transfiguration ? The answer comes in one of these references to the Old Testament Scripture, where more of the inner side of His life is told than was possible in the Gospels. “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” This reference, to a chapter of Isaiah, full of wonderful expressions of the Lord’s patience with men and His tender accommodation of His power to them in their feebleness, explains the charge that they should not make Him known. It was not the Lord’s will to compel an outward acknowledgment from men by display of outward power or glory; He avoided such compulsion, tenderly winning their hearts and minds as it was possible to win them, but refusing to compel in a way which would do violence to the beginnings of real acceptance.

Take as one more instance of appeal to the Old Testament Scripture, which greatly enriches the Gospel narrative, the several references of the Gospel to the crucifixion Psalm, the twenty-second. Not only do we read in two Gospels, Matthew and Mark, that the Lord uttered the first words of this Psalm in His agony upon the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”—not only this, but by two other references this Psalm is brought into the Gospel narrative of the crucifixion. We read in Matthew’s Gospel, “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots”. (Matt, xxvii, 35.) And again in John’s Gospel, the same Scripture is quoted, and it is added, “These things therefore the soldiers did”. (John xix, 23, 24.) The reference is to the twenty-second Psalm where these words occur. It tells us, in effect, to insert the Psalm at this point in the Gospel. Not only the opening words, uttered by the Lord upon the cross; not only this cry of despair and the saying about the parting of His garments belong to the Gospel at this point, but the whole Psalm, which we see plainly as we read it. “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him; let him deliver him seeing he delighted in him.” It is the voice of the priests and elders mocking the Lord upon the cross. And read on in the Psalm: “They pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” The whole Psalm belongs to the hours upon the cross, and it makes the Gospel narrative so much the more full. It tells not only the words heard by those standing by the cross, but other words of unspoken prayer. It reveals as no Gospel does, the desolation of that last trial, the loneliness of the combat with all the hells.

But perhaps the greatest value, the greatest charm, of this Psalm as an enrichment of the Gospel narrative appears as we read on to its close. For the sad tone of the Psalm changes; it becomes confident, it becomes triumphant, even joyous; it tells of victory, and of blessing to all the ends of the earth in all time to come. “For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. . . . All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations. . . . They shall come and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” This, too, belongs to the story of the cross, this victory, this triumph, this strength from the assurance of blessing to all the ends of the world and to generations yet unborn, which no one of those standing by the cross, whether friend or foe, could know.

We may sometimes have wondered when we have read of the Lord’s walk with two disciples to Emmaus on Easter Day, what Scriptures they were which He opened to them, which made their hearts burn within them and lifted their load of sorrow, when their Lord had been condemned and crucified. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things,” He asked, “and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” They may well have been Scriptures like this Psalm, which tell of the trial which He bore and the laying down of life, but lead us through the hardship and the sorrow to the victory and the joy— through the loss of His outward presence to the joyful realization of the risen and glorified Lord, with us forever with all power to save. If the hearts of the two disciples burned within them as the Lord talked with them by the way, and opened to them the Scriptures, so may our hearts burn as the story of His life is opened to us in these same Scriptures, revealing deep things of His life, His inner thoughts and feelings, His emotions of sorrow and of joy, and especially the victory and the joy prevailing over all sorrow, which were unknown to His disciples, even to those who knew Him best.

No part of the Gospel story contains more references to the Old Testament prophecies than the chapters which tell of the Saviour’s birth and childhood. There are five such references in the first two chapters of Matthew; to prophecies which speak of the virgin birth, of Bethlehem as the birthplace of the King, of bringing the Child out of Egypt, of Rachel weeping for her children, and the prediction, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” All these passages of Old Testament Scripture are connected with the story of the Lord’s birth and the first years of His earthly life, where the narrative is otherwise so meagre. The deeply hidden things of the Lord’s coming and of His infancy could be little known to the disciples, and could hardly be told in direct narrative; but they are told in the Divine way even to every detail. Do we wish that the story of the Lord’s coming were fuller as to the process by which He clothed His Divinity with humanity and dwelt among us? that the Gospel told us more of His infancy and boyhood than the brief mention of His life in Nazareth and the visit to the temple at twelve years? It is all told, the inner story of these first years, and of all His life. And these references of the Gospel, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,” tell us to find it in the Old Testament Scriptures. “Search the Scriptures,” the Lord Himself said, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.” It is because the Scriptures do everywhere testify of the Lord, because He is in them in every line and word, that they have for us comfort and strength; that we may search them and find eternal life.

In Moses and the prophets and the Psalms, the Lord opened to the disciples the things concerning Himself. This suggests a convenient division of the subject for more careful and systematic study. “Moses” means the first five books of Scripture; and with them we may group all the history of the Old Testament. One simple thought may sufficiently illustrate the relation of the Old Testament history to the Lord; the thought that the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the judges of Israel, the prophets, and the kings, David and Solomon, and the rest, all represent the Lord, and that the history of these men describes in parables the experiences of His Divine-Human life. It is the general recognition of this fact, which has led to the effective use of Old Testament tableaux in connection with the Gospel story in the Passion Play of Oberammergau. The thought is enough to open a new light and a new power to us in the Old Testament histories. They become unspeakably holy. As we read them they draw us into closer and more living relation with the Lord. Let us now attempt only in the simplest way to suggest this representative character of Old Testament persons. In the doctrinesof the New Church the subject is developed in detail; and in the case of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, and others, it is shown with great fulness what faculties of the Lord’s human nature, and what experience of His human life, each represents.

The blessing spoken to Abram and repeated to Jacob, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,” was more truly spoken of the Lord.

If we would learn more of the Lord’s tenderness towards men, of His infinite kindness to the unthankful and the evil, and His salvation for every soul in which is the least particle of good, read the prayer of Abraham for Sodom—that the righteous might not perish with the wicked. “If there be fifty righteous in the city,” he prayed; if there be forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, ten. This was the prayer of the Lord as He walked among men and saw them carried away by worldliness and evil. No love but His was at once so strong and so gentle that it could check the wickedness of the world without destroying the good. No love but His could find the spark of heaven In men’s souls and save it alive.

Jacob’s vision of the ladder is another wonderful lesson of the Lord. The Lord, at once God and Man, was the ladder set up on the earth whose top reached to heaven. By Him every one who will may ascend from earth an angel, and by Him heaven’s best blessings are brought down to us below. Almost in the words written concerning Jacob’s ladder, the Lord said of Himself, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

Again, we read the story of Joseph, well beloved of his father but hated by his brethren. Joseph came seeking his father’s flock. So did our Lord come into the world to seek the Father’s sheep, and to speak to His brethren a message of the Father’s love. But Joseph’s brethren hated him and conspired to slay him, because he told them his dreams in which they bowed down to him. So did men conspire against the Lord, and took up stones to cast at Him when He told them of His Divinity. They sold Him too for money to the Gentiles, and parted His garments, as the brethren sold Joseph and sent his blood-stained coat to their father. But still Joseph dealt kindly with his brethren, and though unknown by them preserved their life; and could not restrain his tears, so earnestly he longed to make himself known to them, and to tell them of his forgiveness and his love. How true was all this of our Lord! Though hated and despised He still was giving His life for men, patiently working for them in ways which they knew not, and longing for the opportunity to make them know His love. How precious this simple story of the Old Testament becomes when we know that it is a story of our Lord, and what a new depth of tenderness it adds to the Gospel record of His life!

We read the story of Samuel, given by the Lord, who was weaned by his mother and brought as a child to the tabernacle in Shiloh to serve the Lord. It is a charming and touching story, and far more so when we know that Samuel represents the Lord in some aspect of His Divine-Human life. The Lord was the child given from above in the world’s hour of deepest sorrow. From His earliest years He was weaned from His mother, as He felt His Divine origin, and that although He was in the world He was not of the world. Mary could give Him natural birth; she could wrap Him in swaddling clothes and minister to Him in external ways, as Samuel’s mother made him a little coat and brought it to him from year to year. But from the first she began to wean Him, and to look upon Him with holy wonder, pondering the shepherds’ words, and the Child’s own question, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” It was the Lord Jesus who, from tender years, began His service at the tabernacle— began indeed to make Himself a tabernacle in which God could dwell with men. As a child He learned in the silence and darkness of the world’s night to listen to the Divine voice and to obey it; and as Samuel, in the morning, opened the doors of the tabernacle, so did the Lord open the doors of the Divine presence, bringing morning to the world. It was not by chance, but to remind us of the deeper meaning of this story, that it was written of Samuel, almost in the same words as of the Lord, “And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the LORD and also with men.”

Again, we read of David who, as a lad, was called from the sheepfolds and anointed king. The Lord was the true David of Bethlehem. He was the man after God’s own heart. He was the David who continued to be promised by the prophets, long after King David lived and died. The Lord was the good Shepherd who, even as a child, cherished in His heart the lambs of perfect innocence, and with courage defended them against the lion and the bear of childish passions. The Lord was anointed King as He advanced in youth from perfect innocence to perfect strength, and began to rule His own life in the power of Divine truth, and to make the influences of evil which had oppressed men tremble. David’s first battle, with the Philistine giant, is a wonderful picture of the Lord’s early conflicts with evil. David went down into the valley to meet Goliath, armed with his shepherd’s sling and five smooth stones from the brook. The armies stood watching on either side, knowing that their fate depended upon the result of the single combat. It is a most impressive picture, the shepherd lad meeting the proud warrior, trusting in no earthly armor but in the name of the Lord of hosts. And how it grows in grandeur when we know that the picture is really of the Lord, fresh from the innocence of His Divine childhood, trusting in the power from on high, going forth alone to fight the battles on which the fate of all mankind depended! The whole world and heaven itself stood dismayed and helpless before the giant power of evil. The Lord alone took the whole battle upon Himself and gained a victory which earth and heaven might share. David slinging his smooth stone at the giant, is the Lord as a boy—and He was always a child in innocence—meeting the tempter with a simple Divine truth from the stream of the Holy Word: “It is written, Thou shalt not.” Can we admire David’s courage? and have we not a still deeper admiration for this courage of the Lord? And we are not idle spectators of His battle, but our own life depends upon His victory. As the host of Israel shouted and joined in the pursuit, so we may be victorious in His strength.

We read of Moses, how he built the tabernacle in the desert after the pattern shown him from heaven. We wonder at the minute details of its materials and form. We read again of the building of the temple by Solomon of the choicest materials of the earth. How holy does all this become when we know that we are reading of the tabernacle and temple which the Lord was building in His Divine-Human life; a tabernacle of God with men, in which He could dwell forever with them; a temple which men could not destroy. How full of meaning Solomon’s prayer becomes at the dedication of the temple, when he prays for all the people wherever they may be, in whatever distress, that they may find relief, every one according to the needs of his own heart, when they turn towards the temple! It is the Lord’s prayer that all may learn to know Him in His Divine Humanity and find forgiveness for every sin and strength for every duty. While we read, the tabernacle in the desert and the temple at Jerusalem fade away. We see no temple, but the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb.

Read of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, how they passed to and fro over the paths of Galilee proclaiming the true God and doing mighty works by His power, but how they were rejected by Israel, so that Elijah found a home with the widow of Zarephath, and only Naa-man the Syrian came to Elisha to be healed of leprosy. And all this ingratitude and hardness of heart was prophetic of the Lord’s own life; as He told the men of Nazareth. He, too, walked in the paths of Galilee blessing the people’s bread, imparting to them both natural and spiritual life. But with those who should have loved Him best there was no place for Him to lay His head; He found a welcome only with the simple and the Gentiles.

Read where you will in the Old Testament history, and everywhere, sometimes more plainly and sometimes more obscurely, you read of the Lord Jesus Christ and His redeeming work. It is not by chance that some of those stories of the Bible which we loved best as children are now those which speak to us most plainly of the Lord. It is the Lord in them which makes them precious to the children. We ought to treasure that childlike reverence until we learn its meaning, until with maturer understanding we clearly see the Lord, where, as children, we felt His presence. So Moses wrote of the Lord.

“Moses and the prophets, and the Psalms.” Turn now from the historical to the prophetic Scriptures. Here the ray of Divine promise shines out of the darkness of the later days of Israel and Judah, even more brightly and definitely, pointing not now to a vague hope to come from Abraham’s line, but to a child to be born of a virgin; who should come from Bethlehem in the land of Judah; who should be called as a child out of Egypt; upon whom the Spirit of Jehovah should rest, to make Him of quick understanding; who should be heralded by a cry in the desert, which should turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers; who should come as a light into the darkness of Galilee, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan; who should be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord Jehovih, to preach good tidings unto the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to the bound; who would be greeted as King, though He came lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass; who would be hated without cause; who would be despised and rejected of men, would be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, would pour out His soul unto death and be numbered with the transgressors; who would swallow up death in victory and wipe away tears from off all faces; who would lead captivity captive; who would bear the government upon His shoulder, and of the increase of His government and peace there would be no end.

This voice of prophecy breaks out continually from the shadows of Israel and Judah, from the story of their decline and captivity, with hope and consolation not for that people only, but for the world. In very many instances, as we have seen, the prophecies are cited in the Gospels, and in not a few instances by the Lord Himself, as fulfilled in His life. Not only did He read from Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth, and say, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled.” He spoke of the three days and nights of Jonah in the whale’s belly—or as Jonah himself says, in the belly of hell—as a type of His crucifixion and burial, which also was typical of all His temptations. When the thought of deliverance from the trial came to the Lord in Gethsemane, He said, “But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” And again on the same night, “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.” Still more plainly than Moses and the history of Scripture, the prophets are speaking of the Lord, not here and there, but everywhere.

As we search the Scriptures to find the Lord, the whole Bible becomes transfigured with His brightness. Moses and Elias — history and prophecy — appear with Him in glory, and speak of the experiences of His own perfect life. But even while we read, Moses and Elias are forgotten, and all mere human names. We are in a holy presence, and as we raise our eyes we see no man, but Jesus only with ourselves.

It remains to speak of the Psalms as songs of the Lord’s life—”Moses, and the prophets, and the Psalms.” And here we have not only the fact that the Lord opened to the disciples in the Psalms the things concerning Himself, but we have David’s own testimony as recorded in the Book of Samuel: “David . . . the sweet psalmist of Israel said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” Remember also, as we have already noted, that David represents the Lord, and the Psalms of David become the songs of the Lord’s life, the expressions of His heart in times of conflict and of triumph. We have seen how plainly this is true of the crucifixion Psalm, the twenty-second, and how much that Psalm adds to the fulness and tenderness of the Gospel story. Passing from this Psalm to the next, is it by chance that we find the words of peace and of protection in death: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. . . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”? And still reading on we find the story of resurrection and ascension: “The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof. . . . Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? of who shall stand in his holy place? . . . Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in.”

We think not of the man David, but of the Lord, when we read in the Psalms the professions of perfect innocence and faithfulness. Our thought is more with the Lord than with David as we read, “A Psalm of David [and in the original this title is a part of the Psalm]. LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! Many there be that rise up against me.” “A Psalm of David. Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: my goodness and my fortress; my high tower and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.” Even the cruelty and vin-dlctiveness of some of the Psalms express the thoroughness of the Lord in His victories, making no compromise with evil. And when above two Psalms we read, “A Psalm for Solomon,” it tells us that we read of the peace which followed victory, for the Lord. “In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.” “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it. … It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”

The Psalms are songs; and songs are the fullest expressions of love. You know how affections are expressed in music; how our hearts are stirred by joyous or plaintive strains. You know how feeling is expressed and perceived in the music of the voice. There is music in heaven, we are told, which is affection itself sounding and affecting all hearts to their depths. When we know that the whole Word is written of the Lord, that Moses and the prophets and the Psalms, no less than the Gospels, tell the story of His life, we are prepared to learn that the great love of the Lord’s coming, and the affections of His life in sorrow and joy, are expressed in fulness in the great song-book of the Scripture, the Book of Psalms, which, enfolded in the midst of the Scripture, beats like the warm heart of the whole. Even the names of musicians and of strange musical instruments, in the titles of the Psalms, will have interest when we are able to see in them indications of the phases of affection which the Psalms express.

All readers of the Bible know the tenderness of the Psalms, their appeal to the affections; their power to quiet fears and troubled feelings, and to inspire trust and courage. It is because the Psalms are Divine songs, are expressions of the Lord’s great love, in which He came into the world, in which He met and conquered all temptation, and made blessed Christian life possible to men. “God so loved the world.” This great love is expressed in the Psalms as nowhere else.

The doctrines of the New Church repeatedly and emphatically declare that the Sacred Scriptures are Divine in every line, and full of infinite light and power, not because of their letter, which is taken from the language, the knowledge, the experiences of men, but because of their spiritual and inner meanings which do not regard one nation or one people, but the universal human race, as it is and has been and will be; and what is still more universal, the kingdom of the Lord in the heavens; and in the supreme sense the Lord Himself. In a very wonderful way the Sacred Scriptures make one with the Lord’s life. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” In the Old Testament Scriptures the whole story of that life was told as it would be, even to its inmost thoughts and feelings; so fully so that when that life was lived, it was but the fulfilling, the making actual, of what had been written.

And this involves a very tender thought about the Word, that it was to the Lord an essential means in living the perfect life with men, and in doing His saving work. What was there written as perfect truth He made actual, and joined to the truth the love which made it living, and filled it full with power. We value a copy of the Bible which has been the property of father or mother, or one whom we have loved. We value the worn pages, and the signs that the book has been often opened to certain Psalms and chapters of the Gospel; we love to think of the dependence of these strong men and women upon those pages of Scripture, and to realize that they were the secret of their strength; and so in a still deeper and more sacred way it adds to the value of the Scriptures to read them as the book of the Lord’s life, to be taken by them into the inner secrets of His life, to go to the springs of His comfort and His strength.

The simple truth, that the Scriptures are all about the Lord, shows as nothing else does, the unity of the Scriptures, and makes of many books, written by many men, in different languages, In different places and at widely different times, one Holy Bible, one Word of God. “The LORD gave the Word: great was the company of those that published it.” The Scriptures are one book from the Garden of Eden to the Holy City, especially because they are the book of the Lord’s life, for they were never perfectly fulfilled, and can never be perfectly fulfilled, except in Him. They are His sacred garment, with healing in its very hem. Outwardly they may be made of many parts, which irreverent hands may rend; but inwardly they are woven without seam, one perfect whole, one continuous, perfect story of His life.

But more than the transfiguration of the Word with new glory to our minds, when we know that it is all about the Lord,—more than the unity that we find in the Scripture in spite of all that critics may do to rend it, when we know that it all relates to Him,—more than these is the sense of the Divine presence in the Word when we read it all as the Lord’s book and the story of His life. There is a wonderful interest in the history of the patriarchs, the judges, and kings, when we know that they are types of the Lord in His human life; there is wonderful interest in the prophets when we see in them not only predictions of the fact that the Lord would come, but revealings of the inner story of His life; there is wonderful interest and wonderful tenderness in the Psalms when we learn to read them and to sing them as songs of the fatherland, the national airs of heaven, as songs of the Lord’s own life. There is power in their music, as in David’s playing before Saul, to drive away the evil spirit, to refresh us and make us well.

As we read the Scriptures reverently as the story of the Lord’s life with men, the reading is a coming near to the Lord; and the Scriptures become the means, as they were meant to be, of bringing the comfort, the light, the power of God into the lives of men.

The new Gospel is discovered—is revealed—and lies open for us to read; the Gospel that tells all that we need to know and can wish to know of the inner history of the Lord’s coming and of His redeeming work. It will open more and more to teach of His life, and to bring us into closer and more vital touch with Him; that we may live from Him, and more abundantly forever.

Author: William L. Worcester