Life in Fullness
Ephesus; and again we remind ourselves that the challenge there relates to the all-inclusiveness of love, the first love, and so, when we touch the matter of love in its fullness, we expect to find an all-inclusive issue. That is to say, we expect to find that the thing which is bound up with an all-inclusive love is an all-inclusive outcome, and we are not wrong in that expectation. Here it is - "To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God." Here, with love after this kind - the love of God, the love of Christ, the love of the Spirit - is bound up the whole question of life in its fullness: and what an issue that is! There is a reference to the tree of life in the Paradise of God. It is a backward look as well as a forward one. It takes us to the beginning and then to the end. We shall find that tree of life right at the end of the Book of the Revelation as the ultimate thing. It was the first, it is the last;therefore it is all-comprehending, this matter of love.
But you have to look back to the beginning to see what a tremendous issue it was and is. God, having first created the heavens and the earth, and all things, then created man and set him in that garden, and in the midst of the garden placed the tree of life; and everything of the creation and everything of man and everything of the Divine heart-purpose was centered in that tree. It was the tree of life. That is more than the animal life, more than the human life, more than the natural life. That kind of life, the animal, the human, the natural, was all there, but there was a life that was not there except as represented by the tree. As constituting a test, symbolically it was there, but its real significance was spiritual and unseen. And when man failed in this matter of reciprocating the love of God, and doubted and questioned and disbelieved and disobeyed - all of which is contrary of love - God made it impossible for that man as he was, in that state, to have that other life; and therefore the creation faded like a fading flower, was disrupted, and man came under the terrible shadow of judgment and death. Says Paul, "Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men" (Romans 5:12). For the very creation, for man himself, that life was essential for God's purpose. man never received it, and he lost it on the ground of lost love, failure in love.
Now look at the Lord Jesus. He came in the fullness of times. God sent His own Son, the Son of His love, and when the Son stepped out from His hidden years into the open, to assume definitely His great life work, the heavens were opened and God said, "This is My beloved Son" (Matthew 3:17). And John said of Him, "In Him was life" (John 1:4). Here He is, the embodiment of a new creation, in Whom is that life which Adam missed. It is here in Him. "In Him was life," that other life, that different life, that Divine life. It is in Him, and God says of Him, as embodying a new creation, "in Whom I am well pleased."
He is the Son of God's love, He possesses the life which no man had ever before possessed, He is the answer to all God's heart, God finds His perfect pleasure and satisfaction in Him. But look at Him. What do you see? Well, in this world amongst men, He appeared outwardly no different from any other man. There were repeatedly hints of something unusual about Him, which at times were dimly discerned by others, but these related to His nature and character and not to His outward appearance. Apart from this, men saw nothing different; even those closest to Him saw nothing. But there came a day of which it is written, "And after six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, and He was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as the light"' and all this was accompanied by the same voice from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son" (Matthew 17:1-8). Not a different Christ, not a different Son, not another, it is the same One. The life had been hidden, and now it blazed out. The life had been a secret thing, and now it was divulged. The life that was in Him was now seen to be what it was. What a transfiguring life! His whole body transfigured, aglow, agleam with Divine glory. Everything about Him was glory, the glory of heaven, the glory of God, and it was just the nature of the life that was in Him being given an opportunity to express itself. And that is a parable and a prophecy; for does not Paul tell us that the day is coming when this body of our humiliation shall be fashioned anew that it may be conformed to the body of His glory (Phil. 3:21), when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, this mortal put on immortality, and death shall be swallowed up in victory? (1 Corinthians 15:50-55). The life which we have received in Jesus Christ is that kind of life. That is the extra life that Adam never possessed, and you see it is all on the basis of love, Christ's love for the Father. His was a love which was unto death, that would battle through the hordes of evil forces: that, in obedience to the Father's will and for our salvation would cause Him to give Himself into the hands of the evil forces and say, "I am at your mercy, do your fell work; this is your hour and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:530. All this He was ready to do in obedience to the Father's will.
(continued with # 2)