The Son of Man
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT
“Who is this?”—S. Matt. xxi. 10.
Picture: the entry into Jerusalem.
Resolve: to think of Jesus Christ, the Man, this Advent.
a.The first Advent gospel brings forcibly before us the Immediate purpose of the Incarnation: “For this cause came I into the world.” In view of that purpose the scene has for us an appalling character in its mixture of curiosity, excitement, indifference, passing favour, but readiness to be stirred up to religious violence. It seems in part to represent permanent attitudes towards the Gospel.
b.Nevertheless the crowd did not mean to attack goodness. That aspect which impresses us so strongly was lost upon them, for they did not perceive even his goodness, still less did they understand him. They only knew of him through the religious prejudice of their teachers, and from certain stories which shocked their traditions. They were sight-seers who did not even ask their question with any serious intention.
c.Through this crowd, unheeded as a force, he rode in meekness and submission to its conditions. It is we who can see in this picture a partial answer to the question: he is one whose Person is revealed in humility, whoever he may be. He will conquer by conviction of character, and not by the display of any evidence of works.
II—The Son of Man.
a.The title is especially applied to him in this connection. But to us it conveys more even than ideal humanity: it connotes to Christians the divine relation of humanity. There is the self-revelation of all the Gospel in his Person; that God could become man is the evidencing that man’s purpose can be fulfilled, and that this purpose is the expression of true and full manhood.
b.We must study for a lifetime this revelation of what man is meant to be, and must study it in the imitation of the life of the Son of Man in its many-sidedness: but never may we lose sight of the truth that it is man in his fulness, man in relation to human life, although the revelation involves aspects of life not much regarded outside Christ.
c.Exhibition of human life is an inadequate expression of that life of the Son of Man which is the revelation of the power of God in man, which is to be ours through the Man who is God made man. Imitation can only mean here the proving of the power, the finding real and operative that gift which is the spirit of Christ and therefore of God.
III —Who for us men and for our salvation.
a.Bidden on Advent Sunday ask “Who is this?” of him as he enters Jerusalem on that journey at the end of which he was to be consummated. We, being as we are; may not think of him solely as the revelation of man, and the gift of God in man; but must recognize the gift as brought to us through the mystery of his life interpreted by its close. This should suffice to save us from the adoration of Christ merely as the Example.
b.Inasmuch as this redemption is wrought out in human nature we must learn therefrom that our incorporation into him is not merely into the fruit of his redemption but into him as Redeemer; that in him the character of his life of oblation is to be reproduced in us. Thus this Gospel is in no way foreign to the season, but casts a fuller light upon the humble and neglected birth-chamber.
c.Who will dare to look with pity upon the infant who is thus to suffer and die, and not rather to adore yet more devoutly? For what is even any life worth except what it can endure, suffer to save, and so rise to its highest fulfilment through the surrender of self to the bearing of the burden of life’s deformities which mar the presentation of true humanity.