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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 12 - Acts 4:27 - Man's Rejection of the Christ of God Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


There are two special points here calling for our notice; (1) Man's rejection of the Christ of God; (2) Man's confederacy or conspiracy against Him.

I. Man's rejection of the Christ of God. The accusation which our passage brings against man refers specially to the cross. It was there the awful rejection-scene took place. All His life through, Jesus was suffering rejection; but it was on the cross that this was consummated. Herod and Pilate, Israel and the Gentiles, with one voice refused Him; and by crucifying Him declared what they thought of Him and his claims. Not this man, but Barabbas! Release for the robber; crucifixion for Jesus of Nazareth! The cross is man's declaration of his mind toward Christ. For the crucifixion-scene is a continuous thing. Jesus is "evidently set forth crucified among us" (Galatians 3:1). He has been held up to view throughout the ages; and universal refusal (save among the few called ones) has been the result. Man,—not the man of this age or the other, but of all ages,—"will have none of Him." The cry is, "We will not have this man to reign over us." Who is it that is thus rejected? He is (1) the Christ; (2) the Holy Child; (3) the Anointed of the Father. The special aspect of character and office under which this Jesus is said to be refused is the last of these three,—the Anointed one,—the Messiah,—the Christ of God. Personally then, as the Christ, He was openly rejected; and officially it was the same. For the anointing points even more to the office than the person. The anointing of old was for three offices,—prophet, priest, and king. In these three offices,—as God's prophet, priest, and king, he was rejected; and is still rejected and despised.

(1.) Man rejects Him as prophet. He was truly a teacher come from God; never man spake like this man; He was the "word of God"; the "truth of God"; the "wisdom of God"; in Him were "hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge"; He was the prophet "like unto Moses"; nay he was that prophet who gathered together and embodied in Himself all the prophets of the past, from Enoch downward. Man heard as though he heard not, he refused his words, he refused himself; he preferred other wisdom and other prophets. Israel did so, preferring the teaching of their scribes and rabbins to his. Greece did so, preferring the philosophy of Aristotle and Plato, nay, counting Christ's doctrine foolishness, and Himself a foolish, unintellectual teacher in comparison with its philosophers. This rejection of "Christ the prophet" has led in all ages to the introduction of error, man always seeking to be his own teacher; and specially in these last days, worshipping his own intellect, and listening to his own intuitions, or learning, or eloquence, or philosophy. Christ, the world's one prophet, has been, and is rejected by the world. Man will be his own prophet; he will be "as God" (Genesis 3), delighting in his own visions, and fancies, and ideas of "progress," not dreading error as poison and as sin, nor prizing truth as life and health,—nor rejoicing in authoritative truth (sent from God) as that which can alone deliver him from all uncertainty, and darkness, and bondage. He repudiates the thought that authoritative (revealed) truth is freedom and blessedness, and unauthoritative (or uncertain) truth is bondage and sorrow. Christ, God's great prophet, speaking with authority, has no favor in his eyes. "Our lips are our own, who is lord over us" (Psalm 12:4).

(2.) Man rejects Him as Priest. The special crime of Christendom hitherto, as represented by Popery, has been the denial of Christ's priesthood, and the preference of a human, or ecclesiastical, or self-made priesthood. But modem infidelity is in another way doing the same thing. It speaks simply of the priesthood of intellect and genius or the priesthood of humanity,—a human, self-constituted priesthood. It rejects the Great High Priest; it denies his sacrifice; it repudiates the altar and the blood. The efforts of modern philosophy and of a large school of theology are directed against sacrificial, or representative, or mediatorial priesthood. Christ's priesthood is thus a thing of scorn. We need no priest (says the world) to reconcile us to God, to introduce us by his propitiation into the presence of God!

(3.) Man rejects Him as King. Christ is God's King; He is the world's King. He holds the reins of earth, and wields its scepter.' He claims earth's homage and submission; He demands that all its goodly and glorious things should be laid at His feet as King of nations; that kings must rule as He would rule were He visibly on the throne; by the same laws, maxims, principles. But this the world cannot tolerate. Kings say, Let us break His bonds; and men say, We will not have this man to reign over us. Earth rejects Christ's kingship and kingdom. It will have none of Him! It will not own Him as earth's real sovereign; it hates the idea of a holy king, administering holy laws; wielding a holy scepter; carrying out a holy legislation; making everything subservient to the glory of Christ, and conducive to the honour of his kingdom.

II. Man's conspiracy against Christ. It is not passive non-acknowledgment of Christ that the world is chargeable with; it is actual denial; nay, it is confederacy,—combination,—against Him and His authority. It is treason, rebellion, organized resistance to his claims,—to all His rights, as prophet, priest, and king,—specially the last. The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take council together; the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing (Psalm 2:1). The united cry is, "We will not have this man to reign over us"; or, "This is the heir, come let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours." The professing church, no less than the world, will form part of this universal conspiracy; a conspiracy against Jehovah and against His anointed Son. No king but Caesar! Not this man, but Barabbas! In the political obliteration of all difference between truth and error, between Christ and antichrist, we see this conspiracy; as well as in the denial that government, legislature, politics, should be religious, should be distinctly on the side of Christ. The state must be of no religion, is one of the watchwords of our times. The throne is not the representative of Christ, but is the mere center of social order! So speaks the infidelity of our day.

In this respect the political theories of all parties and of all nations are very much alike. Under different names and formulas they unite in displacing Christ from His seat as earth's only King and true Lawgiver. They honour and elevate error as if it were truth; and they dishonour and depreciate truth as if it were error.

The root of all this is man's hatred of Christ, man's rebelliousness against divine authority and Messianic rule; man's lawlessness and self-will; his rejection of any will beyond what is human. In Christ we have the embodiment of God's will, and this man rejects; in antichrist the embodiment of man's will, and this the world accepts; for to be independent of the superhuman and supernatural, to be a God to himself, is man's ambition.