|The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head| (Matt. viii.20).
|Who do men say that the Son of man is?| (Matt. xvi.13).
|And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life| (John iii.14).
It is a matter of profound gratitude that our Saviour was a man. |The Son of man,| as well as |the Son of God,| was essential to His great work of bringing salvation to the race. In one sense we are all sons of man, but not as He was. He was not simply the Son of Mary and her ancestors. He was the Son of humanity. He was equally akin to the race. He touches humanity at every angle and on every side. While He was the Son of David according to the flesh, He is the kinsman of the race as a partaker of our common nature. |Since the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself, in like manner, partook of the same.| He ignored all accidental relationships closer than this shared by the race. The members of His own household obtained not a blessing which He did not as freely bestow on others. The fact that He did not manifest greater partiality toward His mother has been a matter of comment. The simple fact is, that the relationship with which we are concerned, and of which the inspired record treats, is to the race; hence it is not concerned about His personal family affections. His brothers and sisters and mothers are those who hear His word and keep it.
The world has ever had too far-away ideas of God. It has contemplated God at a great distance. It puts Him beyond the stars. Indeed, the stars fade away from view in the distance behind us, as we ascend in imagination to the dwelling-place of the Most High. The world can never be suitably impressed with God's presence while it holds Him at a distance. He can never be sensibly near unto us while we keep Him beyond the stars. Nor can we be influenced by the idea of His presence till we learn that |he is not far from each one of us.|
God tried to impress His people anciently with the idea of His presence by various visible manifestations. Abraham realized time and again that God was his present companion and friend. When Jacob saw the ladder reaching to heaven, and angels ascending and descending on it, he said, |Surely, the Lord is in this place.| And when Moses drew near to see the burning bush, a voice from its flame demanded the removal of the sandals from his feet, for the ground on which he stood was holy ground.
God impressed Israel with the awfulness of His presence as a Lawgiver, whom the nations were to honor, by His voice from Mount Sinai which |shook the earth.| The glorious manifestation of God's presence at the tabernacle, in the midst of the camp of Israel, impressed them with the fact that the God of their fathers was with them; that He was in their midst; that He had not forgotten His covenant; and that He would be with them to sustain them in every emergency till the end. With all this, they often forgot God and went astray. What would they have done without it?
In the person of Jesus, God perfected the divine purpose of bringing Himself into a realized nearness to the human family. He clothed Himself in our humanity, and became one with us. We are thus enabled to look upon Him, to contemplate Him, not as a great, self-existing Spirit, incomprehensible and awful, but as a man. Jesus was a man; and |in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.| He is God manifest in flesh. And as God is thus manifest, would He have us apprehend Him. Just, therefore, as we can appreciate the nearness of Jesus as a loving and sympathizing kinsman, may we appreciate the nearness of His Father and our God.
It is evident that men need a God to whom they can get sensibly near. There is no profit in the worship of a God of abstractions. There is in it no food for the soul. What is there to satisfy the languishing soul in a prayer to the |Great Unknown and Unknowable|? They that come to God must believe that He is. And that |is| is a personal divine being, into whose arms we may cast our helpless selves, and on whose bosom we may pillow our weary head; instead of a great, bewildering, incomprehensible abstraction, |without body, parts, or passions.|
We are brought into a sacred nearness with God in the life of Jesus. From His bed in the manger to His rest in a borrowed grave, we have a life of abject poverty. He was the friend and companion of the poor. The world is full of poverty, and ever will be. But the poorest of every age and country find a companion and friend, of like sufferings with themselves, in the person of Jesus. The cares and sorrows of life, resulting from poverty, of which the world knows most as a daily burden, were fully realized by Him; and in it all He is a deeply sympathetic friend.
Jesus was a man of labor. The hands so often extended to bless humanity, and through which the cruel nails were driven, were hardened by daily toil. He never did a day's work with which His employers found fault. Long after He had built mansions in the skies for them that love Him, were the houses of His own workmanship standing in Galilee; but when He laid aside His tools to do the work of His Father, no man ever pointed to an earthly house and said, |This job is not in harmony with His claims to be the Son of God.| He knew what it was to be tired and hungry. He doubtless knew the meaning of hard work and low wages. It follows, therefore, that every son of toil, every burdened and weary life, has for a gracious Redeemer and providential Saviour one who was |a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.|
Jesus was a man of temptation. He was tempted as no other man was ever tempted. The devil is the author of temptation, and he had a peculiar interest in the temptation of Jesus. Through temptation comes sin. Sin is the yielding of the will under temptation to do wrong. The devil had a special interest in inducing Jesus to sin. He was the representative of the race. Their fortunes were all involved in His. The consummation of His work as a Redeemer required a sinless life. Hence if Jesus could be induced to yield to temptation, the world's hope of salvation was forever gone. It is evident, therefore, that the devil exhausted his resources to accomplish that end. Consequently He was |tempted in all points like as we are,| and infinitely beyond what we know of temptation. And He who withstood Satan in every onset has promised to be with us to the end, and suffer us not to be tempted above what we are able, if we only keep Him between us and the enemy of our souls. It is a source of profound gratitude that we have a Saviour who has felt in all its forms the tempting power of sin, who is full of sympathy for us in our temptations, and who has promised to ever be in such our faithful friend. Hence the great apostle to the Gentiles, whose life was full of temptation and trial, gives us a reason why we should |draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace,| that |we have not a high priest that can not be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like we are; yet without sin.| This very fact in the character of our Saviour gives us humble boldness to approach the throne of grace that nothing else could give. When we have given way under temptation, and our souls are burdened with a sense of sin, we can come to God through the mediation of Jesus, with a confidence that His sympathy for us has been perfected by the experience of His own earthly life. For Christ was perfected for the special parts of His work by His mission among men. |For it become him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.| |And having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation.|
In order to accomplish the great work of redeeming the race, Christ had to be a man. He had to be human, as well as divine. Hence it was just as essential that He be the Son of man as that He be the Son of God. He had to make an offering for sin, and that required a human body. Hence he says, |Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not. But a body didst thou prepare for me.| He had to be human in order to die, and divine in order to conquer death. Hence, while we exalt His divinity, we must none the less appreciate His humanity. We must not cease to contemplate our Lord and Saviour as the Son of man.