By S.D. Gordon
The Earliest Calvary Picture.
There's a great passion burning in the heart of God. It is tenderly warm and tenaciously strong. Its fires never burn low, nor lose their fine glow. That passion is to win man back home again. The whole world of man is included in its warm, eager reach.
The old home hearth-fire of God is lonely since man went away. The family circle is broken. God will not rest until that old home circle is complete again, and every voice joining in the home songs.
It is an overmastering passion, the overmastering passion of God's heart. It has guided and controlled all His thoughts and plans for man from the first. The purpose of winning man, and the whole race, back again is the dominant gripping passion of God's heart to-day. Everything is made to bend to this one end.
When Eden's tragedy came so early, to darken the pages of this old Book, and, far worse, to darken the pages of human life, there is a great glimpse of this passion of God's heart in the guarding of those Eden gates. The presence of the angels with their sword of flame told plainly of a day when man would be coming back again to the old Eden home of God. The place must be carefully guarded for him.
This is a love passion, a passion of love. And love itself is the master passion both of the human heart and of God's heart. Nothing can grip and fill and sway the heart either of man or God like that.
We would all easily agree that the greatest picture of God's marvellous, overmastering passion of love is seen in the cross. All men as they have come to know that story have stood with heads bowed and bared before the love revealed there. They have not understood it. They have quarrelled about its meaning. But they have acknowledged its love and power as beyond that of any other story or picture.
However men may differ as to why Jesus died, and how His dying affects us, they all agree that the scene of the cross is the greatest revelation of love ever known or ever shown. All theories of the atonement seem to be lost sight of in one thought of grateful acknowledgment of a stupendous love, as men are drawn together by the magnetism of the hill-top of Calvary.
But there is a wondrously clear foreshadowing of that tremendous cross scene in the earliest page of this old Book. Nowhere is love, God's passion of love, made to stand out more distinctly and vividly than in the first chapter of Genesis. The after-scene of the cross uses intenser coloring; the blacks are inkier in their blackness; the reds deeper and redder; the contrasts sharper to the startling-point; yet there is nothing in the cross chapters of the Gospels not included fully in this first leaf of revelation. But it has taken the light of the cross to open our eyes to see how much is plainly there. Let us look at it a bit.
The Love Passion.
What is this greatest of passions called love? There is no word harder to get a satisfactory definition of. Because, whatever you say about it, there comes quickly to your mind some one who loves you, or you think of the passion that burns in your own heart for some one. And, as you think of that, no words that anybody may use seem at all strong enough, or tender enough, to tell what love is, as you know it in your own inner heart.
Yet I think this much can be said--love is the tender, strong outgoing of your whole being to another. It is a passion burning like a fire within you, a soft-burning but intense fire within you, for some other one. Every mention of that name stirs the flame into new burning. Every passing or lingering thought of him or her is like fresh air making the flames leap up more eagerly. And each personal contact is a clearing out of all the ashes, and a turning on of all the draughts, to feed new oxygen for stronger, fresher burning.
There are many other things that seem like love. Kindliness and friendliness, and even intenser emotions, use love's name for themselves. But though these have likenesses to love, they are not love. They have caught something of its warm glow. A bit of the high coloring of its flames plays on them. But they are not the real thing, only distant kinsfolk. The severe tests of life quickly reveal their lack.
Love itself is really an aristocrat. It allows very, very few into its inner circle, often only one. The real thing of love is never selfish. Now we know very well that in the thick of life the fine gold of love gets mixed up with the baser metals. It is very often overlaid, and shot through with much that is mean and low. Rank selfishness, both the coarse kind and the refined, cultured sort, seeks a hiding-place under its cloak. But the stuff mixed in it is not love, but a defiling of it. That is a bit of the slander it suffers for a time, from the presence in life of sin.
Weeds with their poison, and snakes and spiders with their deadly venom, draw life from the sun. That is a bit of the bad transmuting the good, pure sun into its own sort. The sun itself never produces poison or any hurtful thing.
Love itself is never mean, nor bad, nor selfish. The man who truly loves the woman whom he would have for his own lifelong, closest companion is not selfish. He does not want her chiefly for his own sake, but for her sake, that so he may guard and care for her, and her life be fully grown in the sunlight of the love it must have. And, if you think that is idealizing it out of all practical reach, please remember that true love will steadily refuse the union that would not be best for the loved one.
What is the finest and highest love that we know? There are many different sorts and degrees of love revealed in man's relation with his fellow: conjugal, the love between husband and wife; paternal, the love of a father for his child; maternal, the mother's love for her child; filial, the love of children for father and mother; fraternal, or brotherly, meaning really the love of children of the same parents for each other, both brothers and sisters--the same word is used for love between friends where there is no tie of blood; and patriotic, or love for one's country. And under that last word may be loosely grouped the love that one may have for any special object, to which he may devote his life, outside of personal relationships, such as music or any profession or occupation.
This is putting them in their logical order. Though in our experience we know the father-and mother-love for ourselves first; and then in turn the others, so far as they come to us, until we complete the circle and reach the climax of father-and mother-love in ourselves going out to another.
Now of these sorts and degrees which is the highest and finest? Well, your answer to that question will depend entirely on your own experience; as every answer and every thought we have of everything does. All children have mothers, or have had, but thousands of children don't know a mother's love.
I was speaking one time in New York City about the conception, of which the Bible is so full, that God is a mother. And the English evangelist Gypsy Smith, who lost his mother when very young, but who had an unusually devoted father, said with charming simplicity that he could not just see how God could be called a mother, but he knew He was a father. And then he went on to speak very winsomely of God as a father.
Many times love is not born in the heart at all, until there comes into the life some one clear outside of one's own kin. Many a woman never knows love until it is awakened in her heart by him who henceforth is to be a part of herself.
But the common answer, that most people everywhere give to that question, is that a mother's love is the greatest human love we know. And if you press them to tell why they think so, this stands out oftenest and strongest--that it is because she gives so much of herself. She gives her very life. If need be, she sacrifices everything in life, and then sacrifices life itself, going out into the darkness of death that her child may come into fulness and sweetness of life. This is the mother spirit, giving one's very self to bring life to another.
The mother gives her very life-blood that the new life may come. And, if need be, will gladly give her life out to the death that the new life may come into life. And yet more, she gives her life out daily and yearly, throughout its length, that so the full strength and fragrance of life may come in her child's life.
Yet, when all this has been said, I am strongly inclined to think that the mother's love, though the greatest that can be found in any one heart, is not the perfect, fully grown love. The human unit is not a man nor a woman, but a man and a woman. Perfect love requires more than one or two for its matured growth into full life. It cannot exist in its full strength and fragrant sweets except where three are joined together to draw out its full depth and meaning.
There must be two whose hearts are fully joined in love, each finding answering and ever-satisfying love in the other; and so each love growing to full ripeness in the warm sunshine of the other love. And then there needs to be a third one, who comes as a result of that mutual love, and who constantly draws out the love of the other two.
For love in itself is creative. It yearns to bring into being another upon whom it may freely lavish itself. That other one must be of its own sort, upon its own level. Nothing less ever satisfies. And so the love poured out draws out to itself an answering love fully as full as its own. And then, having yearned, it does more. It creates. It must create. It must bring forth life; and life like its own in all its powers and privileges. This is the very life of love in its full expression.
Yet to say all this is simply to spell out fully, in all its letters and syllables, the great, the greatest of passions, mother-love, which we agreed a moment ago was the highest. For mother-love is not restricted to woman, though among us humans it often finds its brightest expressions in her. It knows no restriction of sex. It is simply love at its fullest and highest and freest and tenderest; free to do as it will, and to do it as fully as it will. Love left to itself, free to do as its heart dictates, will give its very self, its life, that life may come to another. This is the great passion called love, the greatest of all passions.
The Genesis Picture.
Now, maybe you think we have swung pretty far away from that first chapter of the Genesis revelation. No; you are mistaken there. We have been walking, with rapid stride, by the shortest road, straight into its inner heart. Let us look a bit at the picture of God sketched for us in this earliest page of revelation.
There are two creations here, first of the earth, man's home; and then of man himself who was to live in the home. Here at once in the beginning is mother-love. Before the new life comes the mother is absorbed in getting the home ready; the best and softest and homiest home that her mother-love can think of, and her fingers fix. The same mother instinct in the birds spends itself in getting the nest ready, and then patiently broods until the new occupants come to take possession.
The Bible never calls God a mother, though the mother language, as here, is used of Him many times. It takes more of the human to tell the divine. You must take many words, and several of our human relationships, and put them together, in the finest meaning of each, to get near the full meaning of what God is. Up on the higher level, with God, the word "father" really includes all that both father and mother mean to us.
The word "father" is even used once of God in what we think of as the strict mother sense. In speaking of God's early care of the Hebrews Paul says, "as a nursing-father bore he them in the wilderness." That word "nursing-father" is peculiar in coupling the distinctive function of the mother in caring for the babe with the word father.
The word "father" applied to God includes not only our meaning of father in all its strength as we know it at its best; but all of the meaning of the word "mother," in all its sweet fragrance, as we have had it breathed into our own very life.
We have come commonly to think of the word mother as a tenderer word than father. Though I have met many, both men and women, who unconsciously revealed that their experience has made father the tenderer, and the tenderest word to them. Father stands commonly for the stronger, more rugged qualities; and mother for the finer, gentler, sweeter, maybe softer qualities, in the strong meaning of that word soft.
God Giving Himself.
Here in this Genesis story the creation of the whole sun-system to give life to the earth, and of the earth itself, was the outward beginning of this greatest passion of love in the heart of God. And if you would know more of that love in this early stage of it, just look a bit at the home itself. It has been pretty badly mussed, soiled and hurt by sin's foul touch. Yet even so it is a wonder of a world in its beauty and fruitfulness. What must it have been before the slime and tangle of sin got in! But that's a whole story by itself. We must not stop there just now.
When the home was ready God set Himself to bringing the new life He was planning. And He did it, even as father and mother of our human kind and of every other kind do:--He gave some of Himself. He breathed into man His own life-breath. He came Himself, and with the warmth and vitality of His life brought a new life. The new life was a bit of Himself.
That phrase, "breathed into his nostrils," brings to us the conception of the closest personal, physical contact; two together in most intimate contact, and life passing from one to the other. The picture of Elijah stretching his warm body upon that of the widow's son until the life-breath came again comes instinctively to mind. And its companion scene comes with it, of Elisha lying prone upon the child, mouth to mouth, eye to eye, hand to hand, until the breath again softly reentered that little, precious body.
And if all this seems too plain and homely a way to talk about the great God, let us remember it is the way of this blessed old Book. It is the only way we shall come to know the marvellous intimacy and tenderness of God's love, and of God's touch upon ourselves.
How shall we talk best about God so as to get clear, sensible ideas about Him? Why not follow the rule of the old Bible? Can we do better? It constantly speaks of Him in the language that we use of men. The scholars, with their fondness for big words, say the Bible is anthropomorphic. That simply means that it uses man's words, and man's ideas of things in telling about God. It makes use of the common words and ideas, that man understands fully, to tell about the God, whom he doesn't know. Could there be a more sensible way? Indeed, how else could man understand?
Some dear, godly people have sometimes been afraid of the use of simple, homely language in talking about God. To speak of Him in the common language of every-day life, the common talk of home and kitchen, and shop and street and trade, seems to them lacking in due reverence. Do they forget that this is the language of the common people? And of our good old Anglo-Saxon Bible? Has anybody ever yet used as blunt homely, talk as this old Book uses? And has any other book stuck into people's memories and hearts with such burr-like hold as it has?
That breathing by God into man's nostrils of the breath of life suggests the intensest concentration of strength and thought and heart. The whole heart of God went out to man in that breath that brought life.
The whole thought of God's heart was to have a man like Himself. Over and over again, with all the peculiar emphasis of repetition, it is said that the man was to be in the very image, or likeness, of God. God gave Himself that the man might be a bit of Himself. Here is the love-passion, the mother-passion, the father-mother-passion, in its highest mood, and at its own finest work.
The man was to be the very best, that so he might have fellowship of the most intimate sort with God. Of course, only those who are alike can have fellowship. Only in that particular thing which any two have in common can they have fellowship together. Let me use a common word in its old, fine, first meaning: man was made to be God's fellow, His most intimate associate and companion.
As you read this early story in Genesis of God's passion of love, you know, if you stop to think into it, that if ever the need for it came, He will climb any Calvary hill, however steep, and receive the jagging nails of any cross, however cutting, for the sake of His darling child--man.
This love-passion never faileth. There is no emergency that can arise that is too great for love's resources. Any danger, however great, every need, no matter how distressing, is already provided for by love. The emergency may sorely test and tax love to its last limit, but it can never outdo it, nor outstrip it in the race. No matter how great the danger, love is a bit greater. No matter how strong the enemy threatening, love is always yet stronger. However deep down into the very vitals of life the poison-sting may sink its fangs, love goes yet deeper, neutralizing the deadly influence with its own fresh life-blood.
Have you ever looked into a single drop of water and seen the sun? the whole of that brilliant ball of fire there in one tiny drop of water? Well, there's one word on this first leaf of the Book which contains the clear reflection, sharply outlined, of the whole creation story; ah! yes, more than that, of the whole Gospel story.
Come here and look; you can see in its clear surface the form of a man climbing a little, steep hill, and being hung, thorn-crowned, upon a cross of pain and shame. It is in chapter one, verse two, the word "brooding." The old version and the Revision, both English and American, have the word "moved." The Revisions add "brooding" in the margin. And that is the root meaning of the word underneath our English--"brooding," or, rendered more fully, "was brooding tremulous with love."
The Genesis Water-mark.
That English word "brooding," as well as the old word underneath, is a mother word. The brooding hen sits so faithfully, day after day, upon the eggs, bringing the new lives by the vital warmth of her own body. The mother-bird nestles softly down upon the nest in the crotch of the tree, patiently, expectantly brooding, by the strength of her own life giving life to the coming young. She who, in the holiest, greatest function entrusted to her, comes nearest to God in creative power and love--the mother of our human kind, broods for long months over her coming child, giving her very life, until the crisis of birth comes; and then broods still, for months and years longer, that the new life may come into fulness of life. That is the great word used here.
Now, will you please notice very keenly the connection in which it occurs. It was because the earth was "waste and void, and darkness upon the face of the deep," that the Spirit of God was brooding. It is only fair to say that our scholarly friends who think in Hebrew are divided as to the meaning here. Some think that these words, "waste and void," simply indicate a stage, or step, in the processes of creation.
But others of them are just as positive in saying that the words point plainly to a disaster of some sort that took place. In their view the whole story of creation is in the ten opening words of the chapter. Then follows a bad break of some sort; then the brooding of God in verse two; and the rest of the chapter is taken up in what is practically a reshaping up again of the whole affair. Some of this second group of Hebrew scholars have made this translation,--"the earth became a waste," or "a wreck," or "a ruin," or "without inhabitant."
If we may so read it now, it gives a world of additional meaning to this word "brooding." Here was love not merely giving life, but giving itself to overcome a disaster. The brooding was to mend a break. Love creates. It also redeems. It stoops down with great patience, and washes the dirt and filth thoroughly off, in the best cleansing liquid to be found, and brings the cleansed, redeemed man back again.
Love does indeed create. It gave man the power to choose freely, without any restriction, whatever he would choose to choose. Redeeming love does more. It woos him to choose the right, and only the right. It gets down by his side after his eyesight has become twisted, and his will badly kinked by wrong choosing, and patiently, persistently works to draw him up to the level of choosing right. Love makes us like God in the power of choice. But there's a greater task ahead. It makes us yet more like Him in the desire to choose only the right, and in the power to choose it, too. All this is in that marvellous world of a word--"brooding."
The whole story of the sacrifice of Calvary is included in this wondrous first leaf of revelation. If we had lost the Gospels, and didn't know their story, nor the history of man, we yet could know from this Genesis page that, if ever the need arose, God would lavishly give out His very life, at any cost of suffering and pain, that His man might be saved. John, three, sixteen is in the first chapter of Genesis. Calvary is in the creation. God gave His breath to man in creation, and His blood for man on Calvary. He gave His blood because He had given His breath. Each was His very life.
You know the way publishers have of putting an imprint in a book by means of what is called a water-mark. By the skilful use of water in manufacturing the paper, a name or trade imprint is made a part of the very paper of which the book is made.
Have you ever noticed God's water-mark on the paper of this first leaf of His Book? Hold your Bible up as we talk; separate this first leaf and hold it up to the light and try to see through it. The best light to use is that which came from Calvary. Can you see the water-mark plainly imprinted there? Look closely and carefully, for it is there. In clear-cut outline, every bit of it showing sharply out, is a cross. And if you look still more closely you will find this water-mark different from those in common use, in this--there is a distinct blood-red tinge to it.
A Human Picture of God.
Illustrations of God from our common life are never full, and must not be taken too critically, but they are sometimes wonderfully vivid and very helpful. Anything that makes God seem real and near helps.
A few years ago I heard a simple story of real life from the lips of a New England clergyman. It was told of a brother clergyman of the same denomination, and stationed in the same city with the man who told me.
This clergyman had a son, about fourteen years of age, who, of course, was going to school. One day the boy's teacher called at the house and asked for the father. When they met he said:
"Is your son sick?"
"He was not at school to-day."
"You don't mean it!"
"Nor the day before."
"And I supposed he was sick."
"No, he's not sick."
"Well, I thought I should tell you."
And the father thanked him, and the teacher left. The father sat thinking about his son, and those three days. By and by he heard a click at the gate, and he knew the boy was coming in. So he went to the door to meet him at once. And the boy knew as he looked up that the father knew about those three days.
And the father said, "Come into the library, Phil."
And Phil went and the door was shut.
Then the father said very quietly, "Phil, your teacher was here a little while ago. He tells me you were not at school to-day, nor yesterday, nor the day before. And we thought you were. You let us think you were. And you don't know how bad I feel about this. I have always said I could trust my boy Phil. I always have trusted you. And here you have been a living lie for three whole days. I can't tell you how bad I feel about it."
Well, it was hard on the boy to be talked to in that gentle way. If his father had spoken to him roughly, or had taken him out to the wood-shed, in the rear of the dwelling, it wouldn't have been nearly so hard.
Then the father said, "We'll get down and pray." And the thing was getting harder for Phil all the time. He didn't want to pray just then. Most people don't about that time.
And they got down on their knees, side by side. And the father poured out his heart in prayer. And the boy listened. Somehow he saw himself in the looking-glass of his knee-joints as he hadn't before. It is queer about that mirror of the knee-joints, the things you see in it. Most people don't like to use it much. And they got up from their knees. The father's eyes were wet. And Phil's eyes were not dry.
Then the father said, "My boy, there's a law of life, that where there is sin there is suffering. You can't get those two things apart. Wherever there is suffering there has been sin, somewhere, by somebody. And wherever there is sin there will be suffering, for some one, somewhere; and likely most for those closest to you."
"Now," he said, "my boy, you have done wrong. So we'll do this. You go up-stairs to the attic. I'll make a little bed for you there in the corner. We'll bring your meals up to you at the usual times. And you stay up in the attic three days and three nights, as long as you've been a living lie." And the boy didn't say a word. They climbed the attic steps. The father kissed his boy, and left him alone.
Supper-time came, and the father and mother sat down to eat. But they couldn't eat for thinking of their son. The longer they chewed on the food the bigger and drier it got in their mouths. And swallowing was clear out of the question. And the mother said, "Why don't you eat?" And he said softly, "Why don't you eat?" And, with a catch in her throat, she said, "I can't, for thinking of Phil." And he said, "That's what's bothering me."
And they rose from the supper-table, and went into the sitting-room. He took up the evening paper, and she began sewing. His eyesight was not very good. He wore glasses, and to-night they seemed to blur up. He couldn't see the print distinctly. It must have been the glasses, of course. So he took them off, and wiped them with great care, and then found the paper was upside-down. And she tried to sew. But the thread broke, and she couldn't seem to get the thread into the needle again. How we all reveal ourselves in just such details!
By and by the clock struck ten, their usual hour of retiring. But they made no move to go. And the mother said quietly, "Aren't you going to bed?" And he said, "I'm not sleepy, I think I'll sit up a while longer; you go." "No, I guess I'll wait a while too." And the clock struck eleven; then the hands clicked around close to twelve. And they arose, and went to bed; but not to sleep. Each one pretended to be asleep. And each knew the other was not asleep.
After a bit she said--woman is always the keener--"Why don't you sleep?" And he said softly, "How did you know I wasn't sleeping? Why don't you sleep?" And she said, with that same queer catch in her voice, "I can't, for thinking of Phil." He said, "That's the bother with me." And the clock struck one; and then two; still no sleep. At last the father said, "Mother, I can't stand this. I'm going up-stairs with Phil."
And he took his pillow, and went softly out of the room; climbed the attic steps softly, and pressed the latch softly so as not to wake the boy if he were asleep, and tiptoed across to the corner by the window. There the boy lay, wide-awake, with something glistening in his eyes, and what looked like stains on his cheeks. And the father got down between the sheets, and they got their arms around each other's necks, for they had always been the best of friends, and their tears got mixed up on each other's cheeks--you couldn't have told which were the father's and which the son's. Then they slept together until the morning light broke.
When sleep-time came the second night the father said, "Good-night, mother. I'm going up with Phil again." And the second night he shared his boy's punishment in the attic. And the third night when sleep-time came again, again he said, "Mother, good-night. I'm going up with the boy." And the third night he shared his son's punishment with him.
That boy, now a man grown, in the thews of his strength, my acquaintance told me, is telling the story of Jesus with tongue of flame and life of flame out in the heart of China.
Do you know, I think that is the best picture of God I have ever run across in any gallery of life? It is not a perfect picture. No human picture of God is perfect, except of course the Jesus human picture. The boy's punishment was arbitrarily chosen by the father, unlike God's dealings with our sin. But it is the tenderest and most real of any that has come to me.
God couldn't take away sin. It's here. Very plainly it is here. And He couldn't take away suffering, out of kindness to us. For suffering is sin's index-finger pointing out danger. It is sin's voice calling loudly, "Look out! there's something wrong." So He came down in the person of His Son, Jesus, and lay down alongside of man for three days and nights, in the place where sin drove man.
That's God! And that suggests graphically the great passion of His heart. Sin was not ignored. Its lines stood sharply out. The boy in the garret had two things burned into his memory, never to be erased: the wrong of his own sin, and the strength of his father's love.
Jesus is God coming down into our midst and giving His own very life, and then, more, giving it out in death, that He might make us hate sin, and might woo and win the whole world, away from sin, back to the intimacies of the old family circle again.
On a Wooing Errand.
Jesus was a mirror held up to the Father's face for man to look in. So we may know what the Father is like. When you look at Jesus and listen to Him you are looking into the Father's heart and listening to its warm throbbing. And no one can look there without being caught by the great passion burning there, and feeling its intense soft-burning glow, and carrying some of it for ever after in his own heart.
Jesus was on a wooing errand to the earth. The whole spirit of His dealings with men was that of a great lover, wooing them to the Father. He was insistently eager to let men know what His Father was like. He seemed jealous of His Father's reputation among men. It had been slandered badly. Men misunderstood the Father. He would leave no stone unturned to let men know how good and loving and winsome God is. For then they would eagerly run back home again to Him. This was His method of approach to the world He came to win.
Jesus is the greatest wooer the old world has ever known, and will be the greatest winner of what He is after, too. Run thoughtfully through these Gospels, and stand by Jesus' side in each one of these simple, tremendous incidents of His contact with the common people. Then listen anew to His teaching talks, so homely and so gripping. And the impression becomes irresistible that the one thought that gripped at every turn, never forgotten, was to woo man back to the Father's allegiance.
Have you not marked the world-wide swing of Jesus' thought and plan? It is stupendous in its freshness and bold daring. The bigness of His idea of the thing to be done is immense. To use a favorite phrase of to-day, He had a world-consciousness. It is hard for us to realize what a startling thing His world-consciousness was. We are so familiar with the Gospels that we lose much of their force through mere rote of familiarity.
It takes a determined effort, and the fresh touch of the Holy Spirit, too, to have them come with all the freshness of a new book. And then we have gotten sort of used in our day, and in our part of the world especially, to talking about world-wide enterprises.
We don't realize what a stupendous thing a world-consciousness was in Jesus' day. He certainly did not get it from His own generation; not from the Jews. It stands out in keen contrast to their ideas. They lived within very narrow alleyways. They supposed they were the favorites of God; and everybody else--dogs, and damned dogs, too; not in the profane usage, but actually.
But Jesus thought of a world, and yearned for a world. The words "world" and "earth" are constantly on His lips. He said He came "into the world;" not to Palestine; that was only the door He used for entrance. It was from Him that John learned, what he wrote down, that He was to "lighten every man that cometh into the world."
To the Jewish senator of the inner national circle He said plainly in that great sentence that contains the gist of the whole Bible--John, three, sixteen--that it was a world he was after. A saved world was the one purpose of His errand to the earth. He had come to "save the world," and would stop at nothing short of giving His very self "for the life of the world."
He tells His own inner circle that "the field" is a world. And that it is to be won by the means He Himself was using; namely, men, human beings, "sons of the kingdom" were to be sown as seed all over its vast extent.
You remember, that last week, the request of the Greeks for an interview? The outside non-Jewish world came to Him in the visit and earnest request of those Greeks. And His whole being became greatly agitated. It was as when one, at last, after years of labor without any seeming success, gets a first faint glimpse of the results he longs so earnestly for. Here was a touch, a glimpse of the very thing on which His heart was so set. The great outside world was coming to Him.
The realization of its tremendous meaning, the sure promise it held of the day when all the world would be coming seems to set Him all a-tremble with intensest emotion. The delight of the possible realizing of His life-dream, His earth errand, and yet the terrific conviction that only by travelling the red road of the cross could that world be won, made a fierce conflict within. It was the world-vision that agitated Him.
And it was that same world-vision that held Him steady. He would not scatter. By concentrating all in one act He would generate and set off a dynamic power on Calvary that would shake and then shape a world. The knowledge that all men would be irresistibly drawn by the loadstone of the cross steadied His steps.
A few days later, as He sat resting a bit, on the side of the Hill of Olivet, the disciples earnestly ask for some idea of His plan. And He explains that the Gospel was to be "preached to the whole inhabited earth." That conception was never out of His mind. How could it be!
But the great purpose and passion of His life stands out most sharply in the words of that last imperial command. He shows the whole of His heart in that stirring "Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all the nations"; "preach the gospel to the whole creation." The passion of Jesus' heart was to win the world. And that passion has grown intenser in waiting. To-day more than ever the one passion of yonder enthroned Man is to win His world. Everything else bends to that with Him. Nothing less will satisfy His heart.
Now, the God-touched man is always swayed by the same purpose and passion as sway God. The passion of every God-touched man, fresh from direct contact with Him, is to win the whole world up to God. Everything will be held under the strong thumb of this, and made to fit and bend and blend into it.