We cannot take the old Gospel story as a poetic symbol, as a mystical embodiment of an inner verity, free from the perils of historical inquiry. For what we hold in it is a deed done once for all, by which God forced for Himself an entry upon the drama of our affairs.
I. A deed wrought in power by God!—Is not that the Gospel that we need to-day? Would anything short of that be a Gospel at all?
(a) In the world of morals we have found to our cost that mere knowledge is not power.
(b) We are beset by many social problems for we see no solution. We grope in great darkness, and see no light. But is this blindness not judicial?
(c) In the personal life is not the cry that goes up so plaintively, so deplorably, a cry for power?
II. The great consolation.—It is to those stricken with this terror, for society, and for themselves, that the great consolation is given. The Gospel is proclaimed yet once again of a deed of power wrought in our very midst; wrought once for all. Lift up your head, oh! ye that tremble Lift up your hearts, oh! ye that faint. The Breath of God is come from the four winds. It blows over you; it enters in you. Stand up, stand up upon your feet, an exceeding great army. Stand up! Rise! Walk! Move out on your vocation!
III. The name given to Jesus is no record of a frail visionary dream, haunting the stormy story of man, even as the tremulous lustre of a rainbow hovers, suspended and unsubstantial, over the thunder of a cataract. No; the name Jesus, the Deliverer, witnesses to a fact done in grim earnest; to an act of force achieved through sweat of blood, by which God’s will enters to strive with yours, and to prevail. The name of Jesus is a power which energises in you, to shatter bonds, to revive flagging power, to kindle a fire that will purify, and deliver, and redeem. Rise, then, walk; go forward; do not shrink or fear what the dark days may bring for you. Within you you may possess the royalty, the supremacy, the victory of Him Whose Name is above every name, the Name at which ‘every knee shall bow.’ Trust yourself wholly to the power of that living Name done into you, at work within your being; and you will find yourself swept along in the movement of a mighty force that makes, surely and fearlessly, towards that great hour where every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.