Here we get the principle of Christ's whole personal course, and we get not only what He was, but the delight He took in us. He took us up. His interest is in us, and the expression of this delight was not simply He acts graciously towards men, but He Himself becomes one of them. He went down to death. We go down to death by sin, He by grace; we by disobedience, He by obedience. So He gets by obedience and grace what we get by disobedience and sin. From the first step that we go He takes us up till He has us where He is. Speaking in a general way, I cannot look at Christ in His life and walk till my soul is at peace and settled. If a soul has not settled peace you will find it wants the epistles first, not the gospels; because the epistles are the reasonings of the Holy Ghost on the value of Christ's work. John's writings bring God down here in grace to sinners. Paul takes man up there in righteousness to God. Paul takes man up to God in the light; John brings God down to man. You get in the gospel of John, God brought down to us in our need, get Him talking to the woman at the well, and His disciples wondering, and she finds that in this tired Man at the well she had been speaking to the Lord of glory. I thought, she said, He was a poor, tired Jew, who wanted a drink of water. Oh, He says, if you knew how that God has come so low as to be dependent on you for a drink of water, you would have confidence in Him at once.
This poor, weary Man was the Lord of life and glory, who not only could lay all her life bare before her in its sin and shame, but could fully meet her heart, meet her need, and attract her to Himself, so that she loses all her sense of fear and shame in her anxiety to bring others to Him too. When our consciences are awakened, we want then to know how a sinner can be just with God, and so we turn to Romans and the reasonings of the epistles; but when the heart knows I am a child, and that the same favour rests on me as on Jesus, I turn back to the gospels and say, I must look at Jesus, what a Saviour He is! I want Him close, close to me then, brought close to my eye. Then I look back to the gospel of John, and see God come down in Him. I get in Him One who, instead of driving the one who had the defilement away, drives away the defilement and leaves the poor leper clean and near Him. Where do we find the blessed Lord going as soon as He is called out to His public ministry? To the baptism of repentance. Why does He go there? Oh, He says, these poor people going there are those in whom God is working. They are taking the first step in the right direction, and I must go with them. I find this perfectness and love in Him. I cannot leave them to go alone, He says, I must go with them. I need not say He needed no repentance, but it was the first step of that poor remnant, and He will be associated with them. This is not your place, says John. Yes, He says, but "suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." He does not haughtily say "becometh Me," but "becometh us." He takes His place in grace along with us (here it was with the Jew), and the heaven is opened for Him, and the Holy Ghost descends upon Him, and the Father's voice proclaims Him Son; the model of our place in grace through redemption.
I get heaven opened four times. At His baptism, the Holy Ghost comes down on Him. Then heaven is opened, and the angels of God ascend and descend on the Son of man; that is, the highest angels become His servants. Heaven is opened, and He comes out on the white horse to judge. And between these two I get heaven opened for Stephen to see Him. The heaven was opened to Stephen as to Christ. But mark how the glory of His person is always maintained. When heaven is opened to Stephen it is that he may look in and see Jesus; but when at His baptism heaven was opened, it was for heaven to look at Him. He was not looking at an object in heaven. Heaven was looking at Him. Heaven was never opened for heaven to look down on anything in this earth till that divine blessed One is there. The fulness of the Godhead is in Him, but He is sealed as a Man. The Father says, All My delight is there. What is most despised on earth is the One heaven cannot but be opened to, and the Father cannot keep silence about Him. A Man is the delight of God. Heaven is opened to Him, the Holy Ghost comes down upon Him, and the Father's voice proclaims Him His Son. And it is of profound interest to see that here first the whole Trinity is fully revealed, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. J. N. Darby.