In one of the most wonderful statements found in all of Scripture, John writes that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Consider for a few moments just one portion of that glorious truth: the Lord Jesus Christ “dwelt among us.” And then just one aspect of that truth, specifically, how fully and completely He dwelt among us.
If you have ever fallen prey to longing for the “good old days,” been stymied by thoughts of bygone times of glory, or been discouraged by the memories of youthful health and vigor to the extent that you were robbed of peace and contentment and hampered in serving faithfully, then consider the Lord when He dwelt among us. If ever anyone might be justified in recalling the past with inertia-inducing sadness and sense of loss, it would have been the Lord. At what point following His incarnation He became fully conscious of who He was we are not told, but by the time He had reached the age of twelve, He understood who He was and, perhaps, remembered where He had come from (Lk. 2:49). There can be no doubt that the peace and equanimity He manifested throughout His adult life were not the fruit of ignorance of His previous eternal existence with the Father in heaven. His repeated references to being one with the Father provide ample evidence of that fact. And His High Priestly prayer gives explicit testimony to that reality: “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).
Yes, Jesus Christ was fully cognizant of His preincarnate existence, the inexpressible nature of the glory, power, and honor in which He lived, Sovereign of the universe, with never a need, with every desire so immediately satisfied as to be unable to properly express it as a desire. The motions of His Being were the immediate and absolute expression of His will—desire and fulfillment so much one as to be indistinguishable, not even possible to be defined in those terms.
Yet, when He came to earth, born into poverty, shame, and disgrace, born to face rejection, hatred, torture, and death, we have not the slightest hint that He regretted coming to earth to die, not the least suggestion that His mind and heart dwelt with longing on what had been. According to His own words, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20). But it is said without bitterness, regret, or self-pity, only as a warning to a scribe, a would-be follower of Him, about what He would be signing up for by becoming a disciple.
Whether preaching to the multitudes or in intimate instruction of the twelve, He never sounded a note of dissatisfaction regarding what had been His former glory. He truly lived in the present, being fully engaged in His heavenly mission, and completely engaged in the service and sacrifice to which He had been called and to which He had committed Himself. Not one breath of self-pity escaped His lips or, for that matter, entered His heart or mind.
He dwelt among us as no human being ever had or ever will live on this earth, with neither regret nor longing for the past, His eyes fixed on His sacrificial purpose from eternity, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2). Yes, His eyes were ever forward, always set on the prize of fulfilling the will of the Father.
And what of us? As we face a new year, are we filled with regrets about the past? Burdened down by past sins? Weakened by sorrow? Or even bogged down by thoughts of past victories or happier times? Then “consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:3).
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