Matt 21:10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”
All the city said it then; and all the world has said it ever since. For nineteen centuries one Figure has haunted the thinking and the conscience of mankind.
If you go climbing among the mountains, you may come occasionally to a lofty pass where the water-courses change their direction. Here a tiny rivulet makes its inconspicuous way to join the rivers flowing eastward: yonder, a few yards off, another begins its long winding journey towards the sunset and the western lands. The raindrops falling on one side of the summit may be carried down to the North Sea, while those on the other merge at last in the Atlantic. You are standing at the watershed, where all the streams divide.
Incomparably the most important watershed in the long history of humanity has been the Incarnation of Christ. At this point, the streams divide. After this, the human course and direction are changed. One Figure has split history in two—so that every event is now dated with reference to His coming, either before or after. In the clash and turmoil of this bitter age in which we live, His influence is still a more dominating thing, His power more to be reckoned with, than the power and influence of any Caesar. For this one Figure multitudes to-day would be glad to die; and no man who has once seen Him can ever quite thrust Him out of sight again or evade His urgent challenge. “Who is this ? “ they asked at the street-corners in Jerusalem long ago : and it is no academic speculation or theological theorizing that renews the question now. It is life, it is history, it is all that is deepest in your experience and mine, that force it inescapably upon us. Who is this Jesus?
Let us begin our inquiry by setting right in the centre of our minds one fundamental fact: the Christian religion is first and foremost and essentially a message about God. It is not primarily a new ethic. It is not just a gospel of brotherliness and loving our neighbour and accepting the Golden Rule. It is not in the main a philosophy of life or a social programme. Doubtless it includes all that : it involves an ethic, supplies a philosophy, enunciates a programme for society. But basically, it is none of these things. It is not a message about human virtues and ideals at all. It is a message about God.
That message is this—that the living God, eternal, immortal, invisible, has at one quite definite point broken through into history in an unprecedented way. Once and for all, in an actual life lived out upon this earth, God has spoken, and has given the full and final revelation of Himself. In Jesus, God has come.