There is nothing higher than the heart of the Father—the eternal dwelling place of the Son, and there can be nothing lower that the Cross and the grave; but, amazing truth! I find the Lord Jesus in both. I find Him in the heart, and I find Him in the grave. He went down into death in order that He might leave behind Him, in the dust thereof, the full weight of our sins and iniquities. The Lord Jesus in the grave exhibits the end of everything human—the end of sin—the full limit of Satan’s power. The grave of the Son forms the grand terminus of all.
But resurrection takes us beyond this terminus, and constitutes the imperishable basis on which the Father’s glory and man’s blessing repose forever. The moment the eye of faith rests on the ascended Lord Jesus, there is a triumphant answer to every question as to sin, judgment, death and the grave. The One who divinely met all these is alive from among the dead, and has taken His seat at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens; and not only so, but the Spirit of that risen and glorified One, in the believer, constitutes him a son. He is quickened out of the grave of the Saviour: as we read, “And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col 21:3).
Hence, therefore, sonship, being founded on resurrection, stands connected with perfect justification—perfect righteousness—perfect freedom from everything which could in any wise be against us. He could not suffer a single speck of stain of sin upon His sons and daughters. The Father could not have the prodigal at his table with the rags of the far country upon him. He could go forth to meet him in those rags, he could fall upon his neck and kiss him in those rags—it was worthy and beautifully characteristic of his grace so to do; but then to seat him at his table in the rags would never do. “And he said unto him, Friend, how comest thou in here not having on a wedding garment? And he was speechless” (Matt 22:12, 13).
The grace that brought the father out to the prodigal, reigns through the righteousness which brought the prodigal in to the father. It would not have been grace had the father waited for the son to deck himself in robes of his own providing, and it would not have been righteous to bring him in, in his rags; but both grace and righteousness shone forth in all their respective brightness and beauty when the father went out and fell on the prodigal’s neck, but yet did not give him a seat as his table until he was clad in a manner suited to that elevated and happy position.
The Father, in the Son, has stooped to the very lowest point of man’s moral condition, that, by stooping, He might raise man to the very highest point of blessedness, in fellowship with Himself. From all this, it follows that our sonship, with all its consequent dignities and privileges, is entirely independent of us. We have just as little to do with it as Abraham’s dead body and Sarah’s dead womb had to do with a seed as numerous as the stars which garnish the heavens, or as the sand on the sea-shore. It is all of the Father. God the Father drew the plan, God the Son laid the foundation, and God the Holy Spirit raises the superstructure; and on this
superstructure appears the inscription: “Through grace, by faith, without works of the law.”