George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Setting of the Pearl
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ--Mat 1:1
The Fact of Jesus--Mark's Gospel
It is generally agreed that the Gospel of St. Mark is the earliest of the four Gospels, and it is notable that in this earliest Gospel there is no genealogy at all. St. Mark does not give the ancestry of Christ, nor does he say a word about His lineage. He stands beside the flowing river, and never seeks to trace it to its source. St. Mark, from the very outset, has his gaze fixed upon the Savior, and brings the reader face to face with Him. There is no attempt to explain the fact of Christ, by relating it to the long past. All that will come in season, for unrelated facts can never satisfy. The first thing is to have Jesus shown us, to be confronted with Him as a living person, and that is the divine office of St. Mark.
His Relation to the Old Testament--St. Matthew's Gospel
But just because man is a reasonable being he can never find rest in isolated facts. And in the next Gospel, the Gospel of St. Matthew, you have our Lord related to the past. St. Mark plunges into the heart of things. He confronts you with the Savior. He says: "If you want to understand the Lord the first thing is to fix your gaze on Him." Then St. Matthew takes that isolated fact, and traces it back to David and to Abraham; Christ is "the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Mat 1:1). St. Matthew is thinking out what Christ implies, the Christ who had changed his life down to the deeps, and the great truth which dawns on him is this, that it takes David and Abraham to comprehend Him. In other words, St. Matthew says that if you want to understand the Lord, you must take in the whole of Jewish history. To St. Matthew, Christ is the crown of Jewish history. Without Him it is inexplicable. It was to Him that the sacrifices pointed. It was of Him that all the prophets wrote. That is why, for all its difficulties, we never can dispense with the Old Testament. Christ is the son of David, who is the son of Abraham.
His Relation to Adam--Luke's Gospel
Then you come to the Gospel of St. Luke, and in St. Luke you have a larger setting. St. Luke does not trace the lineage to Abraham. He traces it right back to Adam: "which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam" (Luk 3:38). Beyond the parent of the Jewish race stands the parent of the human race. Beyond the representative of Israel stands the representative of man. And St. Luke sees that to comprehend the Lord calls for more than the history of Israel; it calls for the long story of humanity. Much in Christ will always be unintelligible, unless you know the page of the Old Testament. But it takes more than the page of the Old Testament to reach His full significance. Christ is the son of Adam, says St. Luke. He is vitally related to humanity. He is in living touch with all mankind. St. Matthew says: "If you want to understand Him, you must lay your hand upon the Jewish heart."
St. Luke says: "If you want to understand Him, you must lay your hand upon the human heart." And one of the beautiful features of St. Luke's Gospel is the stress it lays upon that larger setting--on Christ as the Savior of mankind. The Gospel is full of tender human touches, such touches as make the whole world kin. Roman officers march across its avenues. The Good Samaritan is there. In the Christ of St. Luke there is neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free. He is the son of Adam.
His Relation to God--John's Gospel
Lastly we come to the Gospel of St. John, the last of the four Gospels, written after years of ceaseless brooding on everything the Lord had meant. How then does St. John begin? What is the lineage he gives? Is he content to trace Christ back to Abraham, or to set Him in relationship to Adam? "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." St. Mark gives the fact of Christ, and bids us start by contemplating that. St. Matthew relates that fact to Jewish history; St. Luke to the whole history of man. Then comes St. John, after the lapse of years, and says, "All that-is not enough. If you want to understand the Lord you must relate Him immediately to God." That is the final setting--that the ultimate relationship. The glory of the Man St. John had known is that of the only-begotten of the Father. He comes from Abraham. He comes from Adam. Yes, says St. John, but there is another lineage: "the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."
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