By J. Sidlow Baxter
"He gave His only-begotten Son."-- Jn. 3: 16.
That word "gave" has in it the force of "gave up". As an old commentator says. "God not only gave His Son to the world, but for it".
That meant the birth in the cattle-shed at Bethlehem, the struggle with poverty at Nazareth, the carpenter's bench, the being "tempted in all points like as we are", the suffering of reproach and the being "acquainted with grief", the shame and the spitting, the purple robe and the crown of thorns, the iron spikes and the deadly spear, the awful darkness, and the "tasting of death".
Oh, there is titanic meaning in Paul's words, "He spared not His own Son."
Was ever a gift like the Saviour given?
He leaves the bosom of the eternal Father,
and comes to the bosom of an earthly mother.
The Son of God becomes the Son of Mary.
The Infinite becomes an infant.
He who holds the world in His arms is held in the arms of a frail woman.
He whose garment is space, whose house is the universe, whose chariots are the clouds, and whose diadems are the stars, is wrapped in swaddling bands, and laid in a manger.
He leaves the palace-beautiful of heaven, for the stable, and the work-bench, and the having " not where to lay His head ".
He lays aside His celestial insignia, for the peasant dress and the purple robe.
He puts aside His sceptre of universal sovereignty, for the reed of mock royalty in Pilate's hall.
He leaves the throne of heaven, for the Cross out-side the city wall.
He who is the Prince of life bows His head in death.
He who is without sin becomes the Sinbearer. The Christ of God becomes the Crucified.
He who is the Father's delight becomes the God-forsaken.
He who lit the stars lies in the dust.
He comes. He toils, He hungers and thirsts,
He weeps. He suffers,He bleeds and dies!......for God so loved the world that He "gave up" His only-begotten Son.
Oh, how different is God's giving from men's! In all too many instances, men's giving is for self-advantage; their giving is a subtle form of getting; but God gives out of pure beneficence.
Men's giving can only be to a certain extent: but God's is without limit. Men's giving is usually in response to urgent cries for help: but God gives to those who neither realise their need nor appreciate His gift.
Men's giving is usually to friends: but God gives His gift of gifts to those who are alienated and rebellious; for, as the Scriptures say, "Christ died for us"; and "In due time Christ died for the ungodly", and again "
When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son " (Rom. 5: 8; 6 :io).
At the wonder of such redeeming giving, Edward Young breaks forth:
A pardon bought with blood! with blood divine!
With blood divine of Him I made my foe!--
My species up in arms! not one exempt!
Yet for the foulest of the foul He dies,
As if our race were held of highest rank,
And Godhead dearer as more kind to man!
Oh, what a scale of miracles is here!
Its lowest round high planted in the skies;
Its towering summit lost beyond the thought
Of man or angel.