CONTEMPLATING HIS GLORY
Tom C Munro
John 1: 14-18
Revelation 1: 17, 18
These references to the Lord Jesus becoming “flesh” and becoming “dead” interested me. What has just been said about what we see is very important, especially in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says, “we see Jesus”, chap 2: 9. That is not by our natural eyes; it is by the eyes of faith that “we see Jesus”. But not only that, “crowned with glory and honour”. God has given Him a position of absolute exaltation, which no other man could have. The Lord Jesus is unique in every way, but here I thought that this thought of contemplating would be looking, but it would be more than that; it would be a look of understanding. There would be something of understanding, and something would result from that. This was a careful look; it is not a casual glance. When we were reading in Hebrews we spoke about the need of looking at “Jesus the leader and completer of faith”, chap 12: 2. The note tells us there it is ‘looking away from other things’ (note ‘d’), and that is so important if we are going to get a right view of the Lord Jesus. I think that the way John writes here shows that he was in the gain of not being occupied with other things; his gaze, and his understanding, and his contemplation, were all centred on the One who was the Word.
I just thought of this matter of contemplation; it involves taking time, being apart from other things. John had the Lord Jesus before him. He was there in Person, the One who became flesh, took up a body, a body that was prepared for Him. It has often been referred to as one of the greatest events that has ever taken place, that God was seen in a Man here. But what a Man! The result of this contemplation, I think, is that John is able to pass on what he has actually taken account of. This is shown by what he is able to say about the Lord. It says, “we have contemplated his glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father”. There must have been something that John took account of in the Lord’s demeanour, His settled disposition, His peaceful condition. The Lord Jesus was never anxious about anything. He knew what it was, of course, for His soul to be sorrowful; He knew about that. But generally, I think, He was living in the realm where His Father was: “I am not alone, for the Father is with me”, John 16: 32. So it says - what a glory this was! - “a glory as of an only-begotten with a father”, and then it says, “full of grace and truth”: full! Wonderful matter that! There was nothing in the Lord Jesus as a Man in flesh and blood conditions to irritate. The religious man may have been annoyed by Him, but I think there was everything that was attractive in the Lord Jesus as a Man here, and persons who really felt their need were drawn to Him. I trust all here have been drawn to that Man. I would just encourage myself first of all to be more in this state of contemplating. Our brother Paul Martin spoke recently about the oblation, and this suggests that, the evenness, the perfection of evenness, that was seen. Not one feature stood out more than another; all was in perfection. That showed in what He said and what He did and what He was.
Then John goes on further to say, “for of his fulness we all have received” - that is a wonderful statement - “and grace upon grace”. I think that is what it would be practically. “Grace upon grace” would flow from this One who was “full of grace and truth”. That is what, I trust, we all prove; I have proved it anyway. I am sure we have all proved grace after grace after grace when we hardly deserved it, when we never deserved it, these gentle waves of grace flowing towards us with their balming, calming influence. It is God’s grace. We had a word as to the grace of God recently, and our brother said a very good thing: it is God’s grace. It is not our grace, but I think that feature should come out in our dealings with one another. How important that is! We always say, of course, that it is not at the expense of righteousness, but it is God’s righteousness too: “grace and truth subsists”. Grace is brought to us on the basis of divine righteousness. It is all what is of God; and we need to be absorbed in the immensity of what God has bestowed upon us in all His riches, “the riches of his grace”, Eph 1: 7. And then John contrasts the law given by Moses with what subsists through Jesus Christ - grace and truth subsists in that Man, remaining there in all its grandeur in Christ personally.
So this scripture says: “And the Word became flesh”. John was able to go over these fine features of the Lord Jesus, and we need to learn to do that. The Man in the glory is the same Man that was here, but He is in a completely different condition. He is not in a position of weakness or feebleness: all power has been given to Him in heaven and earth, Matt 28: 18.
Well, I just read this verse in Revelation because the Lord Jesus appears, and here shows His majesty and greatness, something of what He is. He is described in the section before where we read: “his head and hair white like white wool, as snow; and his eyes as a flame of fire … and his countenance as the sun shines in its power”, v 14, 16. What a vision this was! But there is no record of John being blinded by this. Paul was blinded by the vision he got, but I do not think this happened to John. He was able to view, to take account of, all that he was shown; but nevertheless the appearance of this Person was the same Jesus, and He is appearing as knowing everything and seeing everything. We had that during the course of the weekend; our brother, Bert Taylor, spoke of, “I know”. We recently had an address about that as well. The Lord knows everything, sees everything, the things in public and the things in secret. He knows all about us; He knows all about our local assemblies; and He is going on appreciating each local assembly and ministering to each local assembly too.
John says, “And when I saw him I fell at his feet as dead”, but then there is this touch, “and he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not”. You can understand fear coming in at this appearing, but then He says, “I am the first and the last, and the living one”. I am impressed that where the Lord Jesus says that “I became dead” it is couched in the great fact that He is living. He says, “Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the living one: and I became dead, and behold, I am living to the ages of ages, and have the keys of death and of hades”. This is the Man who is living in the power of indissoluble life appearing to John here, and He is giving him the assurance of His own personal touch.
Well, the Lord would do that; He would strengthen us in view of the continuation of things. John ran through to the end; may we be helped and encouraged to continue in the line as well for His Name’s sake!
Word in a ministry meeting in Grangemouth
9th August 2016