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BY JOSEPH A. SEISS,^. D., LL.D., L.H.D.,
For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. — Luke 19 : 10.
HE Christian world is still aglow with the glad celebration of our Saviour's birth. In the text we have His own naming of himself, and of the purpose of His coming.
You will notice that He does not say, / am come, although He means himself. His language is, "77^^ Son of Man is come." This is the formula in which He often designated himself, and not without important significance.
It is not intended as a denial of His divine Sonship. He all the while assumed and marvellously demonstrated that He was truly the Son of God. Peter confessed Him as "the Christ, the Son of the Living God," and He answered to it with commendation and blessing, as the very truth on which His Church was to be built. But the great wonder in His case was, not that the
Son of God should concern himself in human affairs, but that He should have taken on Him man's nature, to become a real member of our
SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. 59
race. This, however, was a necessity in order to be to ns an effectual Saviour; and hence His carefuhiess to impress and emphasize the wondrous fact, that, though the very Son of God, He was, and ever will be, as truly and unchangeable "///^ Soil of Man. ' '
This way of emphasizing his human Sonship implied that He had none of the limitations, narrownesses, or imperfections that mark other men. He was not the Son of a section, or of a particular age, country, or class; but the Son of man., as if the whole human race had come to its highest bloom in Him. He was a Jew by birth, but with nothing of Jewish peculiarities or prejudices to separate Him from the rest of mankind.
He was cosmopolitan in all the elements and make up of His character. Everything truest and best in every man, and everything tenderest and purest in every woman, was summed up in Him, making of Him, as a man, the very flower of all humanity.
The same also emphasized His nearness to us. As the Son of Man, He is the relative and brother of every member of our race — bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. He is therefore capable of being "touched with the feeling of our infirmity;" and, being "tempted in all points like as we are," He is the better able to "succor them that are tempted." And one of the greatest of consolations that Christians have, is, that God hath sent us a Saviour who has a brother's heart, as well as an almighty arm.
6o THE GRACIOUS ERRAND.
As a man He can sympathize with us in all our weaknesses and trials; and as the Son of man^ and not of a sect or party, His sympathies are as
wide ranging as the race itself, embracing Samaritans as well as Jews, Roman soldiers as well as honored scribes, the Magdalenes as well as the sisters of Bethany, the fishermen of Galilee as well as the priests of Jerusalem, the Zaccheuses and Levis as well as the Peters and Johns, children and menials and lepers and sinners and malefactors as well as the greatest and worthiest of mankind. He is "the Son of man;'''' therefore, wherever beats a human pulse, or a heart that sighs for deliverance, there He is with a true brother's love and tenderness.
All this is certainly included in His description of himself as the Son of Man."
Notice now His account of the purpose for which He came into the world, — "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that ivhicJi was lost:'
Men act from different impulses and aims in life: some to better their condition, to augment their fortunes, to gratify their lusts and fancies; some for glory, to win applause, to make themselves a name; and some to help the poor and
helpless, to maintain right, to deliver the suffering and oppressed, and to promote the enlightenment and general good of their fellow-men. But that which moved the Son of God to take our humanity upon Him, and to become the Son of Man, was, "/<9 seek and to save that ivhich zvas losty
SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. 6 1
Some years ago, a man was at work amid a lot of strange bones that had been dug up out of the earth. No one knew to what sort of a creature they belonged, and few cared to know. But the man was familiar with comparative anatomy, and was thus enabled to bring those strange old fragments together in place, and to fill out what was wanting by what was necessarily implied. And when he had done his work, there stood forth a wondrous form of being, as it lived and moved a hundred ages in the past. And so, when the Son of Man came, the world had become a general wreck. Humanity, as depicted in Ezekiel's vision, had become a valley of dry bones. And to gather up and reconstruct these damaged re-
mains to something of their primeval type, to breathe life into them, and to restore man to his original God-likeness and glory, was the purpose for which the blessed Saviour came. ' ' For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
The man of science, at work with his old bones, could do no more than recover a dead form of the past, which would always remain dead. He could not put life into it. But the office of the Son of Man is to give life, to quicken dead souls, to shape them into saints, and to endow them with a blessed immortality.
And by very simple means does He accomplish this. Having purchased redemption by His cross, by His word, providence and Spirit, He now seeks out the sinful, the sorrowing and the lost,
62 THE GRACIOUS ERRAND.
offers His free forgiveness to the contrite and penitent, and breathes into them the life of faith,
hope, and charity. By a principle of love which never wanes, by a human sympathy which never tires, and with a plenitude of renewing power which never exhausts, He comes to every lost and anguished soul, offering to assuage its misery, to lift it out of its distresses, and to set it on the path of eternal salvation, on the simple terms of His Gospel. His mission, as named by himself, is, to comfort them that mourn, to bind up the broken-hearted, to speak peace to the downcast and troubled, to mollify the sorrows of the afflicted, and to give hope and happiness to those ready to perish; for He is come "to seek and to save that which was lost."
And what, dear friends, are u'e^ without Him, but damaged, helpless, and lost men and women? Even in the vast favors amid which we have been reared, and our instruction in the things of Christ and salvation, we can scarcely look at ourselves and think of the judgment without trembling and fear, or call ourselves to strict account without realizing how utterly hopeless our case is without the gracious forgiveness to be found alone in Jesus. But the Son of Man is come for our help. Sinful and unclean,'^ He is' here for our
relief and cleansing. Poor and friendless. He is here to sympathize with us, and to speak words of consolation to our souls. Homes darkened with sorrow, He is here to illuminate and cheer.
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Slavery to sin and vice, He is here to break and to strengthen the released for abiding deliverance. With death and the grave before us, He is here to sustain in the mysterious voyage, and to make a dying bed feel soft as downy pillows are. And whatever else there may be to weigh us down, or to make us despair. He is here to modify and banish it, and to bless with the joys of an everlasting salvation. For "the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
And to assure and certify this to us all the more tangibly and individually, He has instituted the Holy Sacrament of His Supper, in which He gives to each His Body and His Blood, broken and shed for us and for many for the remission of sins; that, as we take and eat, and take and
drink, we have from Him the personal pledge of the redemption which He is come to fulfill to every believer. For whoso eateth of this bread, and drinketh of this cup, firmly believing the words of Christ, and resting devoutly upon Him, dwelleth in Christ, and Christ in Him, and hath eternal life.
He was the Word that spake it ; He took the bread and brake it ; And what that Word did make it, Let us believe and take it.
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