CHAPTER VII.

"What Manner of Man is This?"

Are we not sometimes in danger of creating in our minds the image of a purely theological Christ? A Christ of the meeting-room and of the book, the centre-piece of a wonderful divine plan, the hero of a great drama of history, a man of sayings and of sacrifice whose words and works scholars may profitably discuss.

Do we not sometimes tend to fall into Peters error at the transfiguration and equate Him, even if only subconsciously, with other compelling figures whose writings are used to constitute the Scriptures? And does not our childhoods preoccupation with His earthly life, when He went about doing good, need some correction in perspective in forming a true mental picture of what He is?

True as these thoughts of Him may be, there is a tendency to forget that the written word exists to point to the Living Word, Who was in the beginning with God, and although truly He emptied Himself in order to become subject to the death of the cross He is now restored to all the glory that He had with His Father "before the world was," together with the added glories of the name that is above every name.

Gods estimate of His Christ is infinitely larger than mans. He credits Him with "carrying on the entire universe by His powerful declaration" and states that "the universe has its cohesion in Him."

Although the purpose of Christ has always been to glorify the name of His Father, all through Scripture there are references to the great glories which are His own. These being so much greater than our thoughts of Him we should do well to remind ourselves of their truth. We should have a conception of His greatness which would make us worshipful when we see the evidences of His power and divinity, and not amazed as were His disciples when he stilled the storm, asking one another, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" Of course they obey Him, as does every other natural force or supernatural power, because of what He is. All power is given to Him, and when He raises Lazarus from the dead He has to preface the command to "come forth" with the name of the man He calls, otherwise all the tombs would have emptied themselves.

We live in an age of wonderful discoveries in time and space, and although to some minds these discoveries may make popular theology seem unscientific and incredible, to the mind that is scripturally attuned their effect is to enhance our conception of the majesty of God and the glory of Christ.

The first chapter of the Colossian Epistle contains in three verses (15-17) an epitome of truth to provide meditation for much more than a lifetime. Here Christ is designated as " Gods creative Original" and of Him it is said that in Him were all things created, visible or invisible, an echo of the phrase "in Him were all things made, and without Him was nothing made that was made." To the model of His perfection the Creator fashioned the universe, animate and inanimate. Still more, God, Who is invisible, created mankind in His own image, and Christ is the only image of the invisible God.

Since Adam, the first of men, the reproduction has been marred, because the process of death in humanity has degraded the pristine perfection, and has produced a race which has as its characteristic the fact that it is lacking the glory of God, because death has been transmitted to all, on which all sin. Even so, there is traceable in mankind the outlines of the Image on which it has been modeled.

But apart from mankind there remain those witnesses to God which may be descried through the things that are made, the things which proclaim to the spiritual eye His imperceptible power and divinity.

Christ is the only image of the invisible God; all that we shall ever see of God we shall see in Him for "no man hath seen God at any time." He is Spirit, and is invisible. Creation, which is out of spirit (not out of nothing) has Christ for its original, and therefore those evidences of God which the enlightened eye can descry through the things which are made are evidences of Christ, as it is His office to set forth His Father in terms which the finite mind can understand.

Christ is God to us, as far as our perceptions are concerned, since it is in Him only that we can realise or appreciate or approach His Father, and occupying this unique position, He is entitled to the worship and deference which is Gods.

If this is true in things spiritual, it must also apply in things visible and tangible, for with Him as creations model the wonder and beauty of the universe must be an expression of Him. And wherever that universe has been marred the disfigurement is due to Adams sin, or to the instigator of it in times unrecorded. So therefore in Christ the attributes of God find their expression, not only in the sacred record of His acts but also in the phenomena of nature. We can read the story well enough, if we will only look.

Does not the awe-inspiring grandeur of the storm remind us how His anger burns against sin?

"His chariots of wrath the deep thunder-clouds form, And dark is His path on the wings of the storm."

And the sea, unfathomable, unconquerable and untiring, tells with each repeated wave-beat of His deep unwavering patience, while the dazzling whiteness of the snow is but the reflection of His unsullied holiness, and the age-enduring mountains speak His immutable purpose, their cloud-cleaving peaks pointing his ultimate goal, mankind lifted above earths clouds and mists into the light of Gods presence.

He sets the rainbow in the cloud as token of His faithfulness, and the warm and joyful sunshine, bringing life and health, speaks of Christ the Effulgence of Gods glory--the visible shining of the invisible Sun.

Behold in the flowers the tenderness and beauty of His thoughts! Man cannot create beauty like this, however great his skill, but "My ways are not your ways, saith the Lord, neither are My thoughts your thoughts," and if the glory of Solomon pales into insignificance before the grace and charm of the wild anemone is it not because the beauty of the flower is but the expression of the mind and spirit of a greater than Solomon?

Perhaps the poets have come the nearest to seeing all this, as one of them has written:

"Your voiceless lips, 0 Flowers, are living preachers.

Each cup a pulpit, and each leaf a book."

There is a vast difference between perceiving in the beauty of the universe the beauty of Him in Whom all is created and through Whom and for Whom all things are, and the heresy of the pantheist who teaches that God is in everything. On the contrary, the clear declarations of Scripture affirm that everything is in God. That is, that the universe is an expression of His spirit in material terms, with Christ as His creative original. Does not the acceptance of this thought heighten our conception of Gods Christ~ and at the same time glorify the commonplace? When we observe with admiration beauty in nature, gazing over rolling landscape or enraptured before the grace and fragrance of a flower, there should arise in us feelings of worship towards the Creator of all these things. For is this not but another phase of the setting forth of God, and has not Christ expressed Himself in these material things to that very end?

Surely we can say with the poet:

"I see His blood upon the rose

And in the stars the glory of His eyes, His body gleams amid eternal snows, His tears fall from the skies.

I see His face in every flower;

The thunder and the singing of the birds

Are but His voice--and carven by His power

Rocks are His written words.

All pathways by His feet are worn,

His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,

His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,

His cross is every tree."

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