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The title of this book is part of the opening verse of the New Testament; Matthew says that the gospel that bears his name is 'The book of the generation of Jesus Christ.' Perhaps he wrote more than he knew, though when he wrote he knew much of the wondrous Person concerning Whom the Holy Spirit urged and inspired him to write. But it is always thus when God moves a man to speak or write of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is always a vast amount more in it than just that which meets the ear or eye. Deep below deep lies under the surface of the mighty ocean, that at first strikes the eye with its greys or greens or blues of reflected light, or tosses its foamy whiteness on the head of some curling wave tumbling into a sandy cove — and so it is with the precious Book. More than at first meets the eye is hidden within the phrase, 'the generation of Jesus Christ'; and the purpose of this book is to attempt a fuller understanding of it as it is set there upon the threshold of the New Testament, which is the most precious and important document ever given to man. The Bible in its entirety is the most wonderful book in the world. Its inexhaustible treasures constantly yield eternal riches of wisdom and knowledge that centuries of ceaseless investigation seem only to enhance and magnify. Every precious discovery is the earnest of a yet greater revelation, for its truth can never be fully mastered. Its realisation does but enslave the discoverer, alluring and leading him out unto the ultimate — God Himself — who is wanting to be known and understood of men. It is to this end that we take up these words of Matthew's; obviously the generation of Jesus Christ is a most vital, if not the most vital topic of all subjects a man could choose from the entire Bible for a theme of study. For full as the Bible is of facts and records not otherwise available to man, there are none within it so important as those given by God of Himself. These He has chosen to give us in simple terms readily understandable to any who even cursorily read the accounts, yet which yield fuller delights to those who would bring their whole being to that knowledge, unto which faith alone can attain. It may at first sound unusual that the Bible should be called the Book of generations, but such it is. It is not only that, but it is truly that, and importantly that too, for in it we find the wholly accurate and solely inspired accounts of all generations, from the first to the last. The first of these is to be found in Genesis 1:2 to 2:4, and the last in Revelation chapters 21 and 22. These cover the whole work and range of creation, human existence and eternal life. This is altogether too vast a field for man to comprehend or presume to write about. Our theme is chosen from among them as being the most important of them all. The accounts referred to above are of the generations of the heavens and the earth; the former being given in some detail and the latter but briefly mentioned as the writer sweeps on to reveal the greater truth of God's city, the glorious bride of Christ, as he sees her descending in splendour into the new creation of God. These things are recorded for us by God as facts that He wants us to know rather than scientific data He wishes us to analyse. Indeed we cannot adequately investigate either of these generations, for the first creation is even now but slowly, almost reluctantly, yielding up its secrets to those seeking to probe its hidden mysteries. Man's mind cannot of itself properly relate the scraps of knowledge it laboriously gathers from an inscrutable universe. The new creation, which as yet has its existence only in the mind and will of God, more slowly still yields up its secrets unto the humble heart that with prophetic insight sees into and by faith lives in a foretaste of the heavenly things it shall 'after receive for an inheritance.' The truth is that all such things are only of consequence and, therefore, have been made known unto us by the Lord, as they have relationship with, and bearing upon, the more important spiritual things revealed to us concerning man's origin and destiny; these themselves, illuminating as they are, are only significant as they in turn are related to the generation of Jesus Christ. All this knowledge is bound up with the manifestation and activities of God Himself on the earth at various and notable times in history, whereby throughout the centuries He appeared for and unto man on the earth, foreshadowing and leading up to the great miracle of the incarnation wherein He became Man amongst men in the generation of Jesus Christ. These things being so, it is not surprising to find that His delight is with the sons of men rather than with the multiplicity of inanimate things He created. Therefore, scattered throughout the length of the Bible we find records of the generations and genealogies of men, commencing with Adam and concluding with Jesus Christ. Following God's account of creation in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, and the story of the entry of sin into the world with its immediate consequences in chapters 3 and 4, we are told in chapter 5 verse 1 that this is the book of the births (Hebrew) of Adam. Thus beyond recording the facts He wishes us to know, the Holy Spirit aptly and succinctly names the Old Testament; it is the book of the generations (note plural) of Adam. Likewise, as our title reminds us, upon opening the New Testament our eyes fall upon the statement that this is the book of the generation (singular) of Jesus Christ. The importance of the difference between the plural and the singular as pointed out is of major proportions. Over and over again in the Bible this distinction, seemingly so small, is in fact the whole point which God wishes to make clear, as in Galatians 3:16, 1 John 1: 8, 9, 1 Timothy 2: 5, and 1 Corinthians 8 : 5, 6. We shall find in this instance no less than in those others, that the distinction between Adam's generations and Jesus' generation is, beyond the grammatical point, God's method of introducing us to one of the most amazing revelations in His book. Further, in thus mounting the sentence 'The book of the generation of Jesus Christ' at the head of the New Testament canon, the compilers unwittingly perhaps gave us an alternative name for the latter half of the Bible, for God's book is truly the Book of the generation. This seems to be the real reason why God writes books, for in heaven's library the most important book is called 'The Lamb's book of life.' The main purpose of the two testaments that comprise the whole Bible is to set forth the differences between two men: Adam of the many generations and Jesus Christ of one generation. Jesus is both the last Adam and God's second man. Unlike Adam, Jesus never had a wife; Adam begot children, Jesus begot none. He was the first of a new family, each one to be directly begotten of His Father. The first Adam was created by God and by inspiration was made a living soul; the last Adam was begotten by God a quickening or life-giving Spirit. As by first birth all men are traceable back to that first creation / generation of Adam, even so men must be able to trace themselves back by second birth to the new generation of Jesus Christ. In the first, or Old Testament, the account of the generations of the heavens and earth naturally precedes the records of the generations of Adam, but in the New Testament the order is reversed: the announcement of the new generation, the generation of Jesus Christ, precedes that of the new heaven (singular) and earth. The reversal of the order is logical and significant. The present heavens are quite adequate and perfectly suited to the race now inhabiting the earth. For such a people there need be no replacement. The new heaven and earth God has in mind are quite superfluous unless He has a people to dwell therein. If God is to populate a new earth it must be with a new people. But not as of old is He going to create a new man out of the new earth's dust; instead He begot a New Man on this earth, that beginning from Him He might bring forth a whole new race of men — for whom He has planned and promised and will provide the new universe. This new man, Jesus, was born onto this earth that through Him God might set forth:— [1] His intention for and example of the whole new race. [2] His method of generating every single member of it. [3] His means of accomplishing His ends. The first is by the life of Jesus; the second by the birth of Jesus; the third by the death and resurrection of Jesus. These things we will examine more fully later, noticing only here that by the birth of His Son Jesus, God broke into the ever-increasing generations of Adam in a new and true Genesis. Adam's generations could not be allowed to continue for ever, for each is a propagation and expression and expansion of sin. Every one naturally born since Adam has been born of his nature and in his likeness, fallen and bound to sin. Adam's act of obedience to Eve in acquiescing to her disobedience to God predetermined it. Adam was not deceived as was Eve. He chose a woman instead of God and set a pattern of behaviour which many have since followed to their own destruction. Responsibility is laid at Adam's door because of this act. She was deceived; he was not. Had he remained faithful God could easily have given him another wife, but he preferred Eve to God, displaying his choice by obeying her word instead of God's. For this he forfeited his right to the headship of the chosen race, and God showed His eternal disapproval by refusing to be called the God of Adam. Though He was Adam's creator, He was not his God; as we are later told, 'his servants we are to whom we obey.' Becoming Satan's servant Adam was precluded from the privileges for which he was created, and thus God calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but never the God of Adam. So God's disapproval of Adam's act is signally written into the fabric of the whole book. Following the creation of Adam and his subsequent fall, God suspended all such creative activity. He never created another man until He created man anew in Christ. Instead, He allowed Adam's sin to work itself out in the human race, which it commenced to do immediately and continues to do until this day, and shall till the end of the world. We recognise its immediate results in this tragic family. Of Adam's first two children his firstborn became a murderer in slaying his own brother Abel. In doing so Cain enacted in the flesh what had previously taken place in the spirit in Adam. Cain became the embodiment, the direct result of Adam's obedience and subservience to the devil. Adam, by Cain, is revealed to be a death-dealing spirit, even as Satan, by Adam, is revealed to be the spirit of death now working in all the children of disobedience, which we all are by nature as a result of the original disobedience of Adam. Seeing that the Lord Jesus is a quickening or life-giving Spirit, Adam's disobedience to God and its tragic results are shown to have brought about the absolute reversal of all God intended. Adam and Eve's preference for the word of Satan, as against the word of God, has set a predisposition to sin in the human race which has alienated us all from God. Because of this every person since born of woman is by spiritual heredity a child of the devil and not of God. The only exception to this is Jesus, the son of Mary, whom God fathered into the human race to break the deadly cycle set in motion by Adam. This miracle procured for man a way of escape and salvation from the inescapable end to which the genetic and hereditary laws that govern his life predestined him, which end is sin and death and hell. God accomplished this by the outstanding biological and spiritual miracle of all time — a virgin birth. The birth of the Son This unique birth of Jesus is such a wonderful and amazing miracle that the very Greek word used by God concerning it has equally amazingly been taken up and mounted at the head of all inspired writing: Genesis. This is the word translated 'generation' in Matthew 1: 1, and only once so in the whole of the New Testament writings. Being thus placed at the beginning of the entire Bible, it concentrates the reader's attention straightway upon the greatest miracle of the Godhead both in heaven and on earth: Birth. Birth is both in the Godhead in heaven and in manhood on earth. It is in the Divine nature and being, and because it is there it is also in the human nature and being. God ordained and reproduced a modification of it from Himself unto us. The uniqueness of this new birth does not only lie in the fact that it was a virgin birth, remarkable as that surely is. Jesus was not the result of a freak birth. He was not spontaneously and inexplicably produced by some organic malfunction of a Jewish maid. Had it been so it would to that degree have been a virgin birth, being unique and new among women on earth. But it would not have been acceptable as such among the Persons of the Godhead. To be acceptable in heaven this birth must be a greater miracle than that, as the scripture shows. Perfectly satisfying to the paternal longings of God's heart, it must also be absolutely consistent with His holiness, as well as effectual in power. In terms of execution, New Birth on earth in flesh among men must be as flawless a reproduction of the eternal begetting in. the Godhead in heaven as the frail human media could permit. Therefore its uniqueness must lie in its entire newness both with God and with man. So the Lord introduced the virgin birth, the new birth. This is that birth, unique in flesh and inaugural in the Spirit, by which God became incarnate. God could not really make Himself known to men until Jesus was born. Until then He had been a hidden mystery. The incarnation enabled God to be manifest in the flesh so that He could reveal Himself to men personally. Even so it was not a complete unveiling and revelation of God; that is reserved for a future day spoken of in scripture. Whilst in the flesh Jesus was Emmanuel — God with them in person in a new way. Occasionally in the past He had come down onto the earth and walked and talked with men, and to some at certain times He had revealed Himself in very special ways, but to the vast majority He was there but unseen and unknown. Even when He had dwelt in the midst of the children of Israel in His tabernacle He was veiled and hidden; but when Jesus was born of the Father and Mary at Bethlehem, God was quite openly manifest in the flesh. He was still a mystery; it was all a mystery, but no longer a hidden mystery. And so through this amazing birth we are privileged to see a little into God, and this is the purpose of it. Birth was the great secret mystery of and in God that He never could reveal to men until Jesus came. Hinted at, foreshadowed, even prophesied in scripture, it was completely unexplainable in type or words; but when Jesus was born, the first and greatest step towards the clarification of the mystery of God to man was taken. It was the new birth on earth amongst men, and that birth is linked with His eternal birth amidst the three Persons of the Godhead. That is why the new birth is so vastly important. The most vitally important thing a man must know about himself is that he needs to be born again. Someone must tell him that he needs to be regenerate, so Jesus Christ was born and, being born, He was able both to show it to men and to tell them all about it. No-one else had ever been able to do so, but Jesus came for that purpose. Not once did He ever say, 'You must have your sins forgiven' — others have said that and rightly so, but not He: He says, 'Ye must be born again — something so much, much more. So much more because the forgiveness of sins, tremendous and necessary though it is, is but a favour from God; whereas new birth, supreme favour as it is, is a fusion with God in the person and life of His Son. The former is grace, the fixed attitude of God toward man throughout this age; the latter is the exceeding riches of His grace, involving the eternal nature and being of God. So to show the New Man to men, the eternal only begotten Son in the Godhead became, by a new birth, Mary's firstborn among men. Manifest in the flesh, He was both God's only begotten Son of a woman, and Mary's only begotten son from God. Though Mary brought forth other children after Jesus her firstborn, He only was begotten of God; Joseph was the father of her other children in the normal way. God never before or since has begotten a Son in the flesh. He has one Son, His unique and well-beloved Jesus. Now miraculous birth was not an unknown thing among the children of Israel — they were quite familiar with it. In fact, the nation owed its existence to one such birth, and they were wont even in Jesus' day to trace their ancestry back to Abraham by such means, for they were the descendants of Abraham through the miraculously born Isaac, and they love the thought of it. Unless there had been a miracle birth the nation could never have been and they knew it; but over and above that first miracle, the pages of their history in the Old Testament writings reveal this kind of thing happening again and again. Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, each had brought forth children by the grace of God alone, for as we read we discover that none of them could have borne children except by a miracle. In each case the miracle lay in that the barrenness of each of these women had been turned into fruitfulness. But not so with Mary, for she was a virgin, unmarried. Whereas throughout Israel's history it had been Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Elkanah and Hannah, it was not Joseph and Mary — neither was it God and Mary, but God by Mary. God made His Son of a woman; it was all God as we shall see. In His wisdom God has set these two kinds of miraculous birth side by side in the New Testament. In the first two chapters of Luke's gospel the accounts of the births of John Baptist and Jesus Christ are set side by side. Though written in the New, the birth of John Baptist belongs properly to the Old Testament and is the last great miracle birth of that order. As it had been with Abraham and Sarah, so it was also with Zacharias and Elisabeth — they were childless after years of marriage because of Elisabeth's barrenness. Thus by God's skill, in the simple reading of the scriptures we see the vast difference between the two Covenants, and what appears to be similarity is really complete dissimilarity. The miracle of Jesus' birth does not lie in the fact that it took place, for God had eternally planned, and long prophesied, and solemnly promised that it should be. Both in the nature and order of the Godhead, and also in fulfilment of scripture, it must be God the Son who should be born on earth as the Son of God, and that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, and that the virgin's son should be called Emmanuel — 'God with us.' The real miracle, the great surprise, lay in how it took place; not so much His birth as His conception was the miracle; His actual birth was perfectly natural like anybody else's. It is perfectly in order to suppose that other babes have been born in stables or even worse places than He, but no other has ever been conceived directly and miraculously from God Himself, so that in spirit, soul and body He could say, 'God is My Father.' It was the conception that was the miracle; the birth was as perfectly normal as any other. Marvellous as were the creation of Adam and the births of Isaac, Samuel, and John Baptist, Jesus' generation was far more marvellous, being entirely new. Uniquely incomparable. The greatest of all. Its greatness does not lie just in the miracle itself; greater than that is the sure sight it affords us into the being of God and the order of the glorious Godhead. Beside all this, as though the miracle is unending, Jesus' incarnation set the pattern for a whole generation. The entire family of God throughout the present age of grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ must be born in a similar way to Him. The means of His personal generation in and into man's physical human nature are exactly the same as those by which man must be generated into God's spiritual divine nature. As Adam's personal creation/generation began the human race, so Jesus' personal generation/creation began the divine race. This is one of the reasons why the Lord Jesus Christ is called the last Adam, and not the last Isaac or the last Samuel, or the last any other particular person. None of these others had a personal generation from God. Adam in scripture is called the son of God; so is Jesus Christ, but not one other was personally so called. This is because Adam and Jesus are the heads of two different kinds and natures of men. In Adam all died; in Christ shall all be made alive. Beloved, now can we all be called the sons of God, and for this same reason, for we also may experience a definite and personal generation from God. This is the only way it is possible to become a child of God. God must definitely and deliberately beget me or I am not His child. That He should do this is His dearest wish, for He is a Father and desires a great family all like His first and greatest Son Jesus, Who Himself being in the form of God ..... was deliberately made in the likeness of man through Mary's womb by the Father, that by His birth God might perfectly and eternally reveal the only method of new birth for man. The Father wants many, many more sons like Jesus, as also does the Holy Ghost. You see, God had never had a family. He created flaming spirits and called them seraphim and cherubim, and looked upon them as sons of God; and they were the nearest to Him of all His creatures, but not quite what He wanted. The deepest desires of His Father-heart were never truly fulfilled in them, for they could not quite fill the place of sons. So He created the universe, and taking a handful of dust one day He made of this earth a man to be His son. He breathed His own breath into his nostrils and set him in Eden in paradise, and came down and walked and talked with him in the garden in the cool of the day as a Father with a son. How long that may have continued had not the sin of one of the Father's earlier 'Sons' been planted in Adam's heart, who can tell? But it was all ruined; God lost His son to Satan. So immediately the determination in His heart to have a true son finds expression on His lips as He says, 'The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head,' and His great Father-heart moved forward to the future. Centuries later He called Abram with his wife Sarai and took them out from their own home into a new land. Changing their names, and making great promises to them, He miraculously gave them a son whom He might claim as His own. To this end He worked a miracle in Sarah's womb, and Isaac was eventually born. Therefore He took the child, and provided for him and wrought with him as though he was actually His own. Nevertheless, Isaac was not quite His own, not really; Isaac was really Abraham's son, not God's; God could only look upon him and treat him as a son by a sort of adoption, that was all. From this seed adopted from Abraham God later, through Jacob, Isaac's son, made Himself a nation. He worked miracle upon miracle in order that this should be, and deliberately called Israel His son. It was very real and precious to Him, so much so that a prophet once cried out, 'Thou art our Father,' and He never denied it. But not a single one of them was born as Jesus was born, personally, of God's own seed; all were born of man. They had man to their father; indeed some of them once said, 'We have Abraham to our father.' They never had God to their father. The best they had ever known and the greatest that God had given them was adoption. The Father had adopted the entire nation. The scripture says so quite plainly, 'To them belongeth the adoption,' and because it does it will yet work its way out right to the end and we shall see it. God in His Fatherly love sought most earnestly to treat the entire nation as His sons, seeking to draw from them the true filial love that should answer His own paternal love for them, but rarely did He achieve His desire. Here and there He found a man or a woman who loved Him as He sought, and when He did, it was wonderfully gratifying to Him. One such was David, of whom He said, 'I have found David.' It was so precious to Him to find one after His own heart. He was like a father to him, and David became to God as a son. Indeed, at one point he said that the Lord had said unto him, 'Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee.' He did not know then that he was crying out prophetically what God the Father was going to say to Jesus, the true Messiah, when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies. It was really spoken of Jesus, but David was granted such blessing as he was allowed from it. It was wonderful and precious to him, and so also was the promise God made him concerning Solomon, saying, 'I will be his father and he shall be My son.' But to God it was not, nor could be, all He was seeking. Not yet was the Father-heart being fulfilled. His Fatherly love and instincts were always acting, moving among men, instigating, adopting and adapting, but never finding fulfilment until, in the fullness of time, He could generate Jesus as His own dear Son into the world of men. The life of the Son It was a marvellous day when Jesus was born, for it was a new day. The Jewish day began with night; it started at sundown with darkness and moved from darkness to light, which fact in itself bears a great spiritual lesson. The shepherds keeping night-watch saw the glory of the Lord shining round about them, and in that glory a multitude of the first-created sons of God, all praising God, and an angel voice speaking to them of the Son of God that was born to them at Bethlehem. Angel-sons could come to the shepherds in the skies of glory, but Jesus the Son was born to them in a manger — what a world of difference lies here! Those angel eyes had never beheld such things, nor had their hearts known such inspiration for praise. They had been created by the very God now born man of Mary, a little lower than themselves, and they praised and praised at the wonder of the miracle, but the greater wonder they never knew. Only the Father and the Holy Ghost with the Son knew. Scripture records that when the Son came into the world He said, 'A body hast thou prepared me ..... lo, I come to do thy will, 0 God.' At that moment, He took away the first covenant in order to establish the second. This was the moment for which the Father was waiting. Jesus was God's Son in reality, just what the Father wanted. He was not born miraculously naturally, that is, in the natural order, but miraculously supernaturally, that is, in the completely divine order; God used Mary's womb to bring forth a human Son of the divine order and in the divine manner. He was not adopted by God after someone else had begotten Him by a miracle performed within his wife. He was actually begotten on earth of Him who is the Father in the triune Godhead in heaven, through the agency of the Holy Ghost. He was God's very own Son on earth. Over and over again throughout the pages of scripture we come across momentary flashes of this great desire of God to have a Son through whom He could beget sons. Perhaps at no time in the history of Israel was this desire more manifest than when shining through the lives of their patriarchs, and in none of these was it more clearly shown than in the life of God's friend, Abraham. The particular incident commenced when, one night some two thousand years earlier than Jesus was born, God woke Abraham with the words, 'Take now thy son, thy only son Isaac whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.' So many are the lessons we may learn from this statement and what resulted from it that perhaps a whole volume might be written about them. But one thing is outstandingly clear: at the last moment, when Abraham had come through this unparallelled test of faith without stumbling or faltering, or murmuring, and was found faultless before God and all principalities and powers, the Lord restrained him from his purpose. Among the many reasons foreshadowed by this act of restraint lies the fact that God did not want a son by such means. He did not want someone else's son given to Him, not even Abraham's — He wanted His own. This all-consuming desire is later defined strongly on the negative side as adamant refusal to accept any human sacrifice at all. As a sacrifice for sin humans have no value at all, nor any power of atonement, and as an offering to God are totally unacceptable. God does not especially want sons by sacrifice, but by birth. That is why later the adopted nation of sons, being by birth children of Israel and not of God, could not offer themselves upon the altar. Instead they had to bring an animal which for the time being should represent Jesus the Son of God. So their whole sacrificial system, typical as it was, had to be enacted and adhered to with solemn meaning just as though it was themselves they were offering, but it was not really so. What was as it were mimed with Isaac was typified in the animal sacrifices of Israel. By this method of substitution God was telling them how very dear they were to Him. In type they were offering Jesus instead of themselves without spot to God, but unless they saw that thereby they were offering themselves to God, the whole point of the sacrifice was lost. In substituting them the Lord in type represented them. Jesus could be offered and accepted for them as them — He is God's very own Son. This particular aspect of God's own heart's desire finds expression through the life of Isaac. At the end of this man's life the blind patriarch is found in scripture reaching out his hands to feel the son he could not see. He had the blessing to bestow and must be sure that it rested upon the head of his chosen. To him Jacob was not his very son. He was his son, but not his very son as was Esau; so Isaac asks him the vital question, 'Art thou my very son?' His heart groped with stronger power than his frail hands for the answer he wanted. Esau always did the things that pleased his father and for this reason he was to Isaac the 'very son'. In the life of the Lord Jesus this is most powerfully brought out at His baptism in Jordan. Opening heaven to Him, the Father sent down the Holy Ghost to rest upon and abide with Him for ever in the sacred anointing of Messiahship, and at the same time cried out, 'Thou art My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.' Thus was John Baptist assured and Jesus commissioned, for John now knew that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God, and Jesus the Son of God knew He was sealed for service. Under the power of this authorisation He stepped out into His life's work; the Son among a nation of adopted sons now far removed from the ideal in Father's heart. During the course of His ministry the Lord lost no opportunity to show and teach His disciples the truth of sonship. Right at the beginning He went to the temple where the bodies of animals were offered to God, and called it His Father's house and purged it of the things they were practising therein. They were all so foreign to His Father's intentions and could not possibly portray what He meant. When they challenged His actions He said, 'Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again.' He was really speaking of offering Himself wholly, bodily back to His Father; they thought He was speaking about the building, whilst His disciples thought of a text about the zeal of God's house eating someone up. None of them understood what had really been done and said. It was not until Jesus had died and risen again and ascended to heaven that they understood. As He moved in and out in His ministry, disciples joined and followed Him by the score, multitudes of them; from them He chose twelve, naming them and calling them apostles. These left all and followed Him whithersoever He went, and He taught and trained them, some very intensively, for His service. But when the time came that He should offer Himself back to His Father on their behalf, they fled. What they could not do for themselves because they were only adopted Sons He was going to do for them, paying the price of their sin as He did so. But their relationship to Him was so insubstantial that they could not be true even within their privileged form of adoption / sonship; it was totally inadequate. Privileged they were beyond all who before them had been called sons. They were the adopted of the adopted, and in them was set forth in contrast to Him, the great gulf of difference there lies between adoption and sonship, for He was the Son of sons. On one occasion when they had all been gathered together with Him, someone told Jesus that His mother and His brethren were standing outside wanting to speak to Him, and the answer He gave them made these men realise with joy how completely Jesus had adopted them. He as good as said, 'These disciples of mine are My mother and sister and brother.' When they heard Him say such things as, 'Except a man leave his father and mother and sister and brother and all he hath, he cannot be My disciple,' they knew they were His, for that is just what they had done. It seemed the adoption was complete. On another occasion He taught them a prayer saying, 'Our Father which art in heaven,' and right from the beginning of their relationship He had occasionally referred to God as 'Your heavenly Father'. It was all so wonderful and they believed it, but, though He taught them thus, they could never bring themselves to use the familiar name so often upon His lips, and the Lord never tried to force them to use that sacred title — they just could not do it and that was that. He virtually told them once to ask their heavenly Father for the Holy Ghost, but they did not even do that; they were so dead to their real requirements, and underneath their apparent belief and activities lay a hard core of heedless, resistant unbelief. Jesus knew all about it and left it at that, for as yet He could not bring them into true sonship, though He had introduced the fact of it to them. It was in the last week of His life that it all came to a head. Following the supper together in the upper room, when He had washed their feet and then sent Judas away on a mysterious mission, He talked to them about coming to the Father. 'I am the way,' He said, 'the truth and the life,' but they could not understand Him at all. So Philip said, 'Show us the Father and it sufficeth us.' 'Please Lord, show us this Father of yours that you so often talk about, for we don't know Him; He is so real to you, but so unreal to us; if you do so we will be satisfied; just to know Him will be quite sufficient for us.' Self-confessedly they did not know the Father, though they wanted to so very much; neither did they know the Son, though they had been with Him so long. They did not belong to the same family after all; their parentage and therefore their nature was quite different. Leaving their own parents and families to follow Him did not automatically give them true new parents, His parents. Adopted they were, but not reborn. It needed more than He had yet said or done to them to make them sons of God. In their present state they were really just like orphans and He told them so. But He said He would not leave them like that and it comforted them when He said He would come to them, although it mystified them more than ever that He said He would go away and then come to them. They just could not understand Him; it seemed to them that He was talking in riddles, and indeed it would have been utterly ridiculous had it not been Jesus Who had said it. But it was all so true. What was all mystery to them was so plain to Him. He knew before He came what He had to do when He did come into the world. It was written of Him in the Psalms by David, 'Lo, I come to do Thy will 0 God.' It was His Father's will to beget sons, and He had come to make it possible for His Father to do so, but ever so many more preliminary works had to be done before He could get down to this major task for which He was born. All these were either plainly stated, hinted at, or materially typified in the Hebrew scriptures and practice, and all agreed in heaven before even they were written or ordained. This was that great work which could only be accomplished as His life on the earth drew to its close. It was all very carefully planned and would happen exactly as it had been prearranged, so He gathered His chosen apostles unto Him and led them forth from that supper chamber that they might together take their last walk with Him. Gethsemane was a favourite garden where He had often walked with His disciples, but they knew something strange was to happen that night, for just before they had left upon this journey He had washed their feet. They did not know why or what it meant, they only knew it was because He loved them. But Jesus knew what it meant and why He had done it; that night they were to be privileged to walk with Jesus where none other had ever been allowed to walk, so their feet had to be clean. When Moses and Joshua in their day had been privileged to meet their God they were bidden to remove their shoes from their feet that they might tread upon holy ground, but Jesus had actually washed these dear ones' feet. They were going to walk on holy ground, and gaze upon such holy scenes, and listen to such holy prayers and cries as had never before been granted to mortal man to see and hear. They were those blessed men who were going to walk in the counsel of the Godly (one), and stand in the way of the Righteous (one). They had sat in the seat of the adoring and worshipping ones and had delighted in the law of the Lord they loved; He was a wonderful man to them; all was holy ground, the holiest of all. They did not know what lay ahead of them. In fact, they were to discover that they knew nothing as they ought to know — even about Him. Jesus was always doing new things; somehow it seemed that newness originated with Him, and the discovery of His own self to their hearts that night was amazing beyond words. As they walked with their Lord that night, somewhere between the Supper room and the garden He prayed the prayer of His life. It was indescribably lovely to them: without a pause in the way in order to adopt a different attitude, or strike a new pose, save that of an uplifted eye, He poured out His heart to His Father in a flood of soul-moving phrases that left them speechless at the realisation of His wondrous love for them. They did not understand one little bit of what it was all about, but they heard Him say, 'Father ..... I have finished the work Thou gavest me to do ..... and now come I to Thee. Holy Father keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me. Thine they were (Father) and Thou gayest them Me, now keep them whilst I go on unencumbered to do Thy will.' Thus He was left a free agent to decide whether or not He would fulfil His Father's wishes, and His feet never wavered from the path of His sheer determination to go right on to the end. In the garden His Father gave Him a cup to drink, which caused Him great mental and spiritual anguish, but He drank it and it passed from Him. It was an ordeal terrible beyond description. It was His final agreement to be made sin. No-one and nothing had ever been able to make Him to sin, but God His Father made Him into sin. It was awful, but it was unavoidable. He had been born in order that He might be everything to us — everything, and that included sin. If He was going to be made sin for us, then He must be made sin to us, in order that He might be all in all to us. But even that was a preliminary. It was the greatest thing He ever did. He sacrificed Himself in order to do it, but He took sin away from before God. Jesus took away the thing that was preventing His Father from begetting sons. God could not have the family of sons He wanted until this was done, so the Son came and did it. Sin was the reason why, before this, God had only been able to adopt and adapt other people's sons, and the reason also why Jesus' own disciples could only ever be orphans (comfortless) unless He went away and came to them again anew. The seed of Satan is in the very human seed from which all men's lives develop, infecting and perverting and regularising the whole nature to sin so that no man, however devout or sincerely God-fearing, or genuinely religious, or most self-sacrificing, can possibly by these be, or because of these become, a son of God. Nothing that is of man, or has passed through the hands of man, can make a man a son of God. Religion, scriptures, education, civilisation, politics, art, science, philosophy, or any of these in combination are man's way of accomplishing his purposes. Whether it be church building, or erecting chambers of law or commerce, or college or charnel-houses, whether in order to achieve the highest and best or to sink to the lowest and worst, all are in vain to accomplish God's work. Conversions, indoctrinations, persuasions, proselytisings, coercions from one state of 'faith' or way of life to another, are of man. Regeneration is of God. He begets sons! Any conversion that is not unto total regeneration is not the genuine one God intends. It may have some points of value and benefit in it, but only as it is related unto new birth can it bring the eternal blessing it ought. In order to accomplish this He had to go so far away, so very far away from them — farther than they knew. Even though what they thought He might mean made them very sad, He was going farther away than that, farther perhaps than He knew Himself, farther than any man had ever been, farther away than Adam was from God in the garden on the day that He had called out to him, 'Where art thou?' Jesus had known, of course, that Adam was only just hiding his body fearfully away behind a tree, but in spirit he was in sin, in death — everlastingly and irretrievably so, Satan hoped — and God was calling to him across the gulf. It was awful. He had only known then as from God's side how far Adam had gone away, but He also knew that on Adam's side it was farther than He had ever known or could know experimentally. That is why He had become a man. He wanted to live where man lived, sit where man sat, walk where man walked, be cursed with the curse of men, hang where men hung, die where men die, and lie where men lie; and to know and do that was all new to Him. Head knowledge, even God's head-knowledge by foreknowledge, could not give Him that. Isaiah had prophesied it all earlier. 'By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,' God had said; and to gain such knowledge He who had never known sin had to leave the adopted sons and set forth on His last greatest work to make them true Sons as He was Himself. 'Who shall declare His generation?' asked the prophet. Isaiah did not know, neither did he know that centuries later men would write of it, but Jesus knew; and He knew also that He had come to bring others into it by His own generation. So committing the orphans to His Father's care and responsibility, He led them over the brook into Gethsemane. In the garden Jesus again chose the three men who had accompanied Him previously on some specially selected occasions, and bidding the others wait, took Peter, James and John with Him a bit further on that they might watch with Him through the dreadful hour that lay ahead. Even though the others should fall asleep, these He hoped would stay awake with Him until the agony of God was past. But it all proved to be a vain hope; they failed Him; in the critical hour His three mighty men failed Him. He brought them forth from the others to a point of vantage and, leaving them there to watch while He went on alone a little further, He fell down on His face on the ground. Right in their full view He lay, just about a stone's throw away — not too far — so that they could see and hear Him — but not too clearly. Only dimly might they see and distantly hear His wrestlings and groanings as he accepted responsibility from His Father for the generation of the sons. It all took place in a garden, but it was no Eden for Him. Perhaps He was as far away from the chosen three as was the first Adam from the Holy Three when he hid himself from Them — just a stone's throw away. The difference was that then the blessed Trinity had been wide awake, calling out, agonisingly concerned about Adam's fall, but now when the last Adam fell on His face, agonising openly before His chosen three, they went to sleep. His servant David's three mighty men never failed him, but His mightiest ones could not watch with Him one hour. Even Peter, who like the 'Tachmonite who sat in the seat' (2 Sam. 23 8) was the mightiest of them all, went to sleep. There was no-one to see Him, none heard, no-one cared. So much for the adoption. It just could not work; it was an utter failure. It was an almost unbelievable repetition in reverse of all that took place in the beginning. The three elected ones were Adam's offspring and representatives lying there asleep on the ground. It was a deep, deep sleep, but God had not caused it to fall upon them, He could not take from them a bridal rib and from it form a bride. Oh, how He pitied them; their spirit was willing but the flesh — ah, that is it — the flesh was weak. That is why He had been born. The law was weak through the flesh; the spirit was weak through the flesh; these men were dead to Him through the flesh; and so He had taken flesh and blood because they were partakers of flesh and blood. Out there alone it was as though He had gone back through milleniums of years. Quite deliberately the Lord Jesus was repeating and rearranging all that took place in the first garden, in order to reverse the original transaction whereby adoption had to take the place of true sonship. The dissimilarity of the similarity between those two men and those two gardens, and the two great trials that took place in them, is well-nigh indescribable. The enormity of what took place is almost beyond comprehension. In Eden, Adam, God's first created son, was tempted by and succumbed to Satan: in Gethsemane, God's only begotten Son, the second man and last Adam, was asked by His Father to take and drink the cup and He agreed. It was as though the years had never been, that Father's heart had never been broken, and that it had never become necessary for Him to substitute adoption in the place of direct first birth from Himself, and that first birth had never become a sin-birth necessitating a second birth in order that thereby men might become true sons of God. It was as though the first man had been immediately followed by the second man, Who was to restore what the first had taken away. Adam stole and ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil under the direction of Satan, but the last Adam was offered a cup He would not take until it was given Him by God His Father. He shrank from it, wrestling and groaning in His agony until sweat rolled from Him like great drops of blood falling to the ground. It was the greatest battle He ever fought, and He won it! No-one will ever fully understand the conflict that caused Him such great agony, for it lay in a realm that must for ever be a mystery to man — it was that realm into which Satan sought to enter so decisively in the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry, and had he done so there could have been no salvation for man. It would have meant the defeat of God. But to defeat Satan then had cost Jesus no sweat, no agony, and indeed no noticeable conflict either. There had been no human audience to watch the spectacle as the prince of devils hurtled to defeat at the hands of the God-Man. Wretched devil; how little he knew Jesus of heaven and earth; how finite is fallen Lucifer's boasted wisdom and how ignorant he is of God. He tempted Jesus along the line of His deity, seeking to drive a wedge between His Godhead and His manhood, 'If thou art the Son of God .....' But Jesus ever refused the bait to pride and, as always, answered from the level of His manhood, 'Man shall not live .....' Satan then was defeated by Jesus without tears and sweat and blood, and wrestlings and anguish. The wilderness had held no terrors for Him; it was no Gethsemane, even though it was not an Eden. There in Gethsemane it was in the same realm of the mystery of Himself, who and what He was, that the battle was fought. Not between Himself and His Father, nor yet between Himself and the devil, but within His own being. What was He to do? He could not wish to be sin! How could He desire to be the loathsome thing He hated and yet retain His own inward holiness? How could He entertain the thought of separation from His Father and still remain the faithful Son? He must desire this cup to pass from Him — and the sweat rolled off Him as within Himself He resolved the conflict of the ages. Out there where all men lay asleep in darkness and oblivion He settled it in one great oft-repeated heart-cry. He sacrificed Himself with strong crying and tears to His Father's will — and His Father sacrificed Him on Golgotha for the sin of the world. Earlier, when He had gathered His disciples into an upper room and given them a cup to drink when He had supped it, He said, 'This cup is the New Testament in My blood, drink ye all of it.' They did not grasp what He meant, nor could He tell them the unspeakable blessings that were in it. All love, all righteousness, all peace and joy were in it; the whole of God's testament was therein, all of God's glory and virtue and grace, all life, and good, and heaven, and eternity, and God Himself was in it. Everything, absolutely and simply everything God is or was, or ever shall be. That was the cup Jesus said men could share with Him. But this was the cup that God had kept saved up for Him alone; they could not drink it nor even sip it. It was His alone to drink Gethsemane's cup. It was at once His highest joy and greatest sorrow, for all shame and lowest debasement were in it. It was paradoxical, inexplicable, impossible. In it was all hate, all sin, all warring and conflict and tragedy; the whole of the devil's testament was in it, all his pride and shame and renown; all death and evil and hell and everlasting torment, and the devil himself were in it. Everything, absolutely and simply everything; all the devil in man was, or had ever been beside. Oh, who can tell what was in it? What mixture of sin and death in the blood of man; what distillation from the matured hatred and rebellion and pride and original sin of Lucifer come to full fruition in human life and being! What grief and wrath of God because of and against it all! Who among us can tell? When the wrath of God is poured out without mixture on the earth, who can measure or explain or abide it? But what worth the cup that beside this contained so much more? And who should or could drink it but Jesus? Jesus went a lot further away than they knew whilst they slept that day, and when later they gathered ingloriously, some near, some farther from His cross, they watched until they could no longer see for the darkness, whilst He went further still. What He had accepted in the garden was all working out now. It was happening as He knew it would, and He wanted it to. It was a preliminary, the end of an age, and in enduring it He would be able to commence a new, new day of joy and glory for His Father; the age of adoption would be over and the generation of sons could begin. It was far more than the dispensation of law that was ending that day. What an age God had waited between creating His first man and begetting His second. Even when He had done that at Bethlehem, He had to wait still further whilst Jesus proved Himself to be the Man from whom God could truly beget the race of men He wanted. And so there, so very far out where no-one else had ever been, Jesus hung in the dark until He had watched the long night through. It had seemed as though all eternity was in it, but it only lasted three hours. It was the blackest darkness the world had ever known, but it was all so perfectly right and in order, for it was from black primeval darkness lying upon the deep that He, with His Father and the Spirit, had started in the beginning of creation to generate the heaven and the earth. He had gone back beyond recorded time now; He had to; it was absolutely necessary; all must be finished. The effects and ravages of centuries of sin had to be blotted out, and they were; there He did it. All evil was dealt with, all time was redeemed, and in the Spirit all things were restored so that God could make a righteous new beginning. And as the last shades disappeared and the day returned to its strength, with all power and assurance Jesus greeted the dawn of the new era with a shout of joy and victory: 'Finished!' All the preliminaries were over; now the real reason for all else He had said, and borne, and done, was about to be fulfilled. He need suffer no longer nor lose one more moment of time, so with a quick word of dismissal He returned His Spirit to His Father and bowed His head and died. It seemed to be all over to John who was watching Him. John had slept in the darkness of Gethsemane, but this time he had not slept. He had waited, straining through the dark hours, listening and looking toward the sacred spot where he had last seen his Lord. By his side was Mary, Jesus' mother, standing silently beside her newly adopted son. John held on to her for Jesus had ordained the adoption and she was precious for that reason. So together they watched with Him through His night of victory, though then, with unimaginable sorrow, they thought it to be His last tragic hour of defeat. Seeing Him hanging dead upon a tree stabbed them to the heart, but still sadder things were yet to follow, for standing there in mute sorrow they were witnesses of saddest indignities heaped contemptuously upon His helpless body. A soldier, doing his duty no doubt, came and thrust a spear into His side just under His heart. To John's astonishment (he knew somehow it held tremendous meaning), 'Forthwith came there out blood and water.' He did not know its significance nor what was happening, nor that Jesus was still doing something even in death, but he knew something was happening. What it was John did not know, but Jesus did, and John had been posted and held there by God in order that the record of the truth might be given to us. One of the most remarkable features of John's gospel is that he never recorded the facts of Jesus' birth. Jesus had given Mary to him and him to Mary, but with the unique opportunity thus afforded him to learn all the sacred details at first hand, John never wrote them in his account. Instead, he was stationed by God so near to the cross that he could record for all time this most important detail connected with New Birth — the blood and the water flowing from Jesus' side. This was the great new beginning. Jesus had done all else that this moment might arrive. He offered Himself without spot to God for this that God was now displaying before his eyes. In the order and nature of Deity it had been impossible for God to give birth to human beings; create them, yes; adopt them, yes; but beget them, no. That which is flesh is flesh; that which is Spirit is Spirit. So first He created a man and from him made a woman, and then in the fullness of time selected a virgin that through her flesh He might beget a man — His Son. It was quite simple for God to do this, He only had to violate one principle of the biological law governing reproduction in order to beget a human Son. The birth was quite ordinary; only the method of conception was changed. But it was quite impossible for Him to beget children from human beings already existing in sin, of the seed of the devil in the image of Satan. So God undertook in Jesus to make the impossible possible, thus fulfilling the word spoken at His conception, 'With God nothing is impossible.' Beyond the great miracle then taking place, this word found its greater fulfilment in the miracle now taking place before John's very eyes. For what he witnessed there caused him later to exclaim, 'Jesus is the Son of God; this is He that came by water and blood — Jesus Christ.' What he saw happening to and through the Lord Jesus had at the time filled him with horror and awful wonder. It had appeared to be the last broken-hearted farewell of the dead Messiah, the shattering of all hopes, the final pathetic response of a gentle man to the savagery of hate-filled men wildly lusting for His last drop of blood. But not so, it was something far, far greater; Jesus had indeed said He would go away, but He had also said, 'I will come to you,' and thus He did. He was preordained to be the first that should rise from the dead, and thus became the first born from among them. By His own water and blood He eventually came forth as from the womb of God, a new-born man upon the earth, later to be received back up into heaven, the first of a long line of many sons — the new generation. Sons of God could not be born naturally to God, so a Saviour was born to man in order that man might be supernaturally born to God. He must be both their Father and 'Mother', and this the Son came to reveal. Thinking back over the events of those last few days it all appears so plain in its wondrous simplicity. Yet it is positively marvellous how the Lord Jesus fills the picture and as it were fulfils the function of the 'Mother'. Right at the beginning of His ministry He had said to Mary, 'Woman, what have I to do with thee?' He cut Himself off from her then, and confirmed it later by saying, 'Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven the same is . . . My mother,' and finally concluded His natural association with her at the cross by bequeathing her to John, 'Mother, behold thy son.' She wanted still to look upon Him as her son and herself as His mother, but it could not be — dear Mary had to learn, even at the cost of the great sorrow of her crippled heart, that privilege must not lead to presumption. In the great plan of God and the nature of Deity, and in that which God was doing she could not — just could not be — it was impossible for her to be the 'Mother'. She could, and blessedly did bear Jesus, God's Son in the flesh in the likeness of man, but that was in order that He might be fashioned into the Servant that should do for God and man spiritually what she as the handmaid of the Lord had done physically. He must fulfil the role of 'Mother', and how gloriously, right to the last detail, the Lord Jesus did it. Both male and female are of God. In God there is a relationship that could only be expressed humanly in and as the father-mother-child triumvirate, and this is quite plainly revealed in scripture. The self-revelation of the Trinity is generally accepted to be Father, Son and Holy Ghost in that order, but in the beginning of the Bible it is not so set forth. Genesis 1 :1-3 has it thus: (1) God, (2) the Spirit of God, (3) the Word of God. The order revealed here as God commences generation is undoubtedly Father, Holy Ghost and Son; and this is exactly what we discover in the generation of Jesus Christ. (1) God the Father speaking the seed-word, (2) the Holy Ghost coming on Mary for the mother function, and (3) the Son being born. Again we see this order (modified and adapted) in the actual creation of man. (1) God formed the male first and from him derived (2) the female, and then eventually (3) the sons. Thus it was that the great Male, Jesus, the new Adam, disconnects Himself from Mary and assumes and fulfils the female part, and then again finally emerges from the dead to be the son, to complete the family three. He is made all things to us. He fills all parts, fulfils all orders, functions perfectly in all roles. Gracing everything He does, beautifying and supplying the hidden meaning of every role He fills, outraging nothing, sanctifying everything: Perfect Jesus, how lovely Thou art! So we trace His ways as the great female, 'Mother' aspect of God as derived from the Male. Having sought to instil the important fact of the Fatherhood of God into the minds of the disciples by showing and declaring Himself to be His Son, and also teaching them concerning their own relationship through Himself to the Father, Jesus begins to unfold the hidden truth of true Motherhood. Gethsemane was the chosen spot to begin; there the great travailing pains first came upon Him. As the hour of God's great eternal delivery drew near He began to be amazed and very heavy; His soul became exceeding sorrowful even unto death as the agonies gripped Him. From the commencement of the unspeakable travail in Gethsemane there followed the recurring pains of His awful ordeal at the trial, speeding up now as the time drew nearer still, until the final end in the actual 'birth pangs' of death itself (Acts 2: 24, Greek). Then the spear-thrust of the 'Caesarean' operation for the opening of the 'womb', the breaking forth of the water and the blood, and then the laying in the tomb. It was all done so thoroughly, so rightly, so conclusively. He had completely fulfilled His distinctive role as 'Mother'; and now He becomes the first born Son. Not Mary's this time, but exclusively God's. On earth He had only been the adopted son of His earthly father; Joseph adopted Him; but being raised from the tomb by the glory of the Father, Jesus became God's first-born from among the dead and He knew He was to have many, many brethren of Whom He is the first-born. The Father begot Him as the first of a long line of sons whom He should afterwards bring to glory. So it was that Jesus was born of the Virgin — Himself being that Virgin. This is precisely the reason why Mary, the maid of Nazareth chosen to be His mother on earth, had to be virgin — because she was going to give birth to the eternally virgin Son. The great Virgin God came upon her and was found within her and was born of her, so she just had to be a virgin in order for that to be. And this great virgin God was born of her that He might both take and take away sin. A virginal, sinless soul must be created within a spotlessly perfect body in order that God's eternal purposes with men might be achieved; and that soul must be poured out unto death and in His body He must bear our sins on the tree. During His life on earth sin was without Him and He kept it there, and the wrestling in the garden of Gethsemane was with the fact that although He had never known sin, He must be made sin for us. Yielding with agony to the inevitable, He gave up His body to bear that sin, resisting unto blood, striving lest in its nearer proximity as He made it His own He should sully the virginity of His being and thus destroy all hopes of new birth for man. And He succeeded. His resurrection proves it. Oh, Hallelujah! So, in His hardly won yet eternally assured position as the first born from the dead, He is still the virgin Son. He was Virgin in eternity, Virgin in conception on earth, Virgin in His life, Virgin in His death, Virgin in His birth from the dead (resurrection) and Virgin for ever more. AMEN.

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