A Plant Of Renown

Plants are Renowned for their Fruit

All fruit is from plants. Christ was that choice Vine whose fruit cheered God and man (Judges 9:13). He is also the wheat that grew in God’s field, to make the bread to strengthen man’s heart (Psalm 104:15). The fig tree was renowned for its sweetness, and the upright palm tree for its luscious dates. The cedar of Lebanon was renowned for its majesty, and even the hyssop that sprung out of the wall had its own renown as the agent in the hand of the priest sprinkling precious blood upon the leper to make him clean (Leviticus 14:7).

All the fruit that ever grew, or herbs for the service of man, must be united into one volume of preciousness, to present the glory and grace of Christ; who was raised up for us, as well as for Israel, to be God’s plant of renown.

Plants are Renowned for Their Fragrance

The myrrh tree, the lign-aloe and the cassia tree produced those spices to make Messiah’s garments fragrant in the ivory palaces. “All thy garments smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia, out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made thee glad” (Psalm 45:8).

Our Lord was renowned for His fragrance in the world where my mouth was an open sepulchre and my tongue had used deceit. His mouth was most sweet, and His lips dropped sweetsmelling myrrh, where every imagination of the thoughts of our hearts was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Our Lord did the loveliest deeds in the most lovely way. Some give without cheerfulness, but not the Lord Jesus; the love of friends is often mixed with dissimulation, but not His love. His kindness was lovingkindness, and His mercy tender mercy. When He cleansed the leper He touched him; when He shewed grace to the woman in the temple (John 8), He did not desire to hear the details of the story of her shame. When the Lord gives wisdom He upbraids us not for our ignorance (James 1:5). He does not scold because we know so little. The Lord Jesus always gave commendation before He administered reproof. His ways were full of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

The soul of our Lord was like the holy of holies where the cherubim stretched their wings above the mercy seat, and where the fragrance of the incense was a continual delight. His life was like a garden, where springtime beauty, in the flowers, like the pomegranates “give a good smell.” He was renowned for His lovely words and loving deeds. There never was one like the Lord Jesus whose days, like Canaan, flowed with milk and honey. He was indeed a plant of renown. No person might make a confection to smell like that used in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:38) for that fragrance was typical of Christ and no loveliness was ever lovely like His. There was only one such tender plant (Isaiah 53:2) and He was cut off out of the land of the living. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like the lily of the field; but all the beauty of all the flowers, and all their fragrance too, would not suffice to tell how altogether lovely He is.

“I will raise up for them a plant of renown.”

It was for them. It was for us. When He was raised up in the house of David it was to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). When He was raised up in resurrection it was to give repentance and remission of sins (Acts 5:31).

How marvellously His renown will be known on that glad day when He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all them that believe! Then the earth itself will be filled with “the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

The plant of renown was raised up!

That Holy Thing that was born of Mary was called the Son of God. Without the stain of man’s corruption and beyond the reach of the curse on Solomon’s seed, a Son and Heir was raised up to David to be for Israel a plant of renown.

Their Beauty

Plants are renowned for their beauty. Our Lord is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley. He was thought of as commonplace and ordinary, but when examined, He is fragrant and beautiful like the rose, and pure and lovely like the lily. All the beauty of the light grows in the flowers of earth. This beauty is from light absorbed in the living processes of organic growth. Life in its most beautiful manifestation in the tender plants that grow feeds its soul upon the light and displays its beauty to God and to men. This was the moral glory of Christ, He was God’s plant of renown. He is altogether lovely to the anointed eyes of His people and raptures the heart of God till He opens heaven to exclaim, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

“A Tender Plant” (Isaiah 53:2)

He was a tender plant growing up before the Lord, an exotic, a plant from another land. He was native to another climate. He had been always admired and worshipped in Heaven. Here He was unknown and unnoticed. “The world knew Him not.” But for God’s protection, the tender plant would have been trodden down and destroyed.

There was a renown all His own in those tender years because He was content to be lowly and silent without renown in the world His hands had fashioned. It was a matter of new renown to Him that He who had been so honored and renowned in the glory, should be altogether without renown in this cold, barren world. Lovely lowliness was never so altogether lovely as when in the person of the King of Kings He was a carpenter in Nazareth. He whose glory had flooded the heavens walked unknown on the lanes of a despised village in Galilee. He who had sat on the throne of God sat now on a rude bench in a cottage of the poorest of the people. He whose hand had arranged the stars in the firmament worked hard with saw and hammer to provide that coarse arid scanty livelihood that fed the hungry mouths of the laboring poor. He in whom God found all His delight was never once recognized or known by those nearest to Him, His kinsman according to the flesh.

His hidden years are hidden manna for those who can rise to appreciate the perfect submission and lowliness of Christ our Lord in Nazareth. His spotless humanity was the dew upon which the food of angels came down from heaven to feed men upon the earth with the bread of life. There is nothing more pure and lovely in this sin-spoiled earth than the drops of morning dew, upon which the manna is said to have come from heaven. The world itself could not contain the books that God could write about the preciousness and fragrant beauty of Him; of that one plant of renown that grew up before God on earthly soil.

There was the renown of the Plant before it blossomed in His public ministry of grace and power. The glory of man is as the flower upon the grass. The words and works of the Lord Jesus are the earthly glory of the rose of Sharon and of the lily of the valley. Like the beauty of the flowers, the moral glories of the Lord Jesus were the display of the beauty of the light which God was. All the loveliness of the verdant fields when the flowers bloom are the manifest beauties of the light which the heart of these lilies of the field have been drinking in. Life and light are the source of all the fragrant beauty of the garden and the countryside, which bring such gladness to appreciative hearts.

God who gave the flowers gave His Son to be on earth a plant of renown. Like the herb of the field, He was for the service of man. Like the leaves of the tree, He was for the healing of the nations. Like the fruit of the vine, He cheered God and man. Like the myrrh, the aloe, the cassia, He grew and suffered and died to fill the presence of God and the joy of His people with the most delightful fragrance. Like the flowers appearing on the earth, His coming brought the springtime when the birds sing and when He and His people could walk together in a fellowship that shall one day be forever unbroken in earth or in heaven.

Although our Lord was probably never told as a child the facts of His birth, He showed that He knew when, at the age of twelve, He stayed behind at Jerusalem. When Mary and Joseph found Him in the temple, Mary said, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing” (Luke 2:48).

He answered, “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49)?

This experience was needful to revive in the soul of Mary the memory of His person as The Son of God. The commonplace in His life at Nazareth had dimmed in the soul of Mary and Joseph the realization of His exalted glory as Emmanuel. It seems that even His words then did not immediately have the desired effect. “They understood not the saying that He spake unto them.” But of Mary it is written, “His mother kept all these sayings in her heart” (Luke 2:48-51).

How strange that instead of the perfect lowliness of Him who was God over all causing wonder, love and praise, His meekness should cause the soul to lose the sense of His infinite greatness! Those who saw only His poverty and lowliness, rejected with scorn His majesty and exaltation. Those who knew who He was and whence He came, wondered with great admiration at the grace that could constantly stoop so low. Those who saw His glory, full of grace and truth, treasured His words of love and peace. Christ then and ever since caused in the hearts of men either the deepest reverence and devotion or the blind abhorrence of derision and scorn.

There could be no middle ground; either He was the greatest wonder of the giving Love of God, or else the most pitiable example of colossal pretension and blasphemous delusion. Any man who honestly faces the facts of Old Testament prophecy and type, with the facts of New Testament record in the Gospels and Acts, must exclaim in His presence like Thomas, “My Lord and my God.” How any intelligent person can carry the Bible and be a stranger to the glory and grace of Christ is a confounding mystery to me. It is like the stupidity that walks beneath the stars and says there is no God. It is blindness of the heart, coupled, no doubt, with perversion of the will.

The renown of the world’s dictators is in rising to heights of human glory and attainment from obscurity and poverty. The renown of our Lord is in descending from heights of glory and majesty to depths of human poverty and shame. Men are renowned for climbing to satisfy their passion for power and pleasure; He is renowned for coming down in grace to a path of meekness and mercy in love to others.

John, the beloved apostle, viewing the infinite subject of the Person and Work of Christ, felt like devoted scientists scanning the infinite reaches of the universe; John wrote, “The world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25).

Jewish Rabbis, Protestant Unitarians, and even educated infidels have all spoken well of the Person and words of Jesus of Nazareth. How they can do this without comprehending the implications of their confessions is a mystery to me.

Rabbi Prof. Emil G. Hirsch, Ph. D., LL.D., wrote, “The Jews of every shade of religious belief do not regard Jesus in the light of Paul’s theology. But the Gospel Jesus, the Jesus who teaches so superbly the principles of Jewish ethics, is revered by all the liberal expounders of Judaism. His words are studied; the New Testament forms a part of Jewish literature. Among the great preceptors that have worked the truths of which Judaism is the historical guardian, none, in our estimation and esteem, takes precedence over the Rabbi of Nazareth.”

Rabbi Kaufman Kokler, Ph.D., wrote, “His whole manner of teaching, the so-called Lord’s prayer, the Golden Rule, the code of ethics expounded for the elect ones in the Sermon on the Mount, no less than His miraculous cures, show Him to have been one of the Essenes, a popular saint. But He was more than an ordinary teacher and healer of men. He went to the very core of religion and laid bare the depths of the human soul.”

Why does Rabbi Hirsch reject Paul’s theology? What does he mean? The Jesus that this learned Rabbi could not accept is the Christ of 1 Cor. 15:3-4, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and… He was buried, and… He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Or the Christ of Romans 1:1-4, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, … Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

Prof. Hirsch forgets that Jesus of Nazareth was hated, rejected, and crucified because He said He was the Son of God. Why is he willing to accept “the Gospel Jesus,” while rejecting the Jesus of Paul’s writings? Is there any difference between them? Are they not one and the same?

Is Jesus not called “Christ,” and “Son of God,” and “Lord,” in the gospels? Do the gospel writers not bear witness to His resurrection from the dead? When Paul was an unconverted Rabbi, he hated Jesus of Nazareth because He said He was the Son of God. This was the kernel of the conflict at Jerusalem over Jesus of Nazareth for over three years; His disciples and He Himself said He was the Christ. The Rabbis then were no different from the Rabbis today. They shut their eyes so that they could not see; they closed their ears so that they could not hear; they tried by deceit and persecution to squelch the testimony to Christ’s resurrection. They dared not question the disciples concerning stealing His body from the tomb. When all those who paid the soldiers to circulate this report had the disciples in the temple before them, why did they not bring up the serious charge of breaking the Roman seal and stealing His body?

Why will the Rabbis of today not face the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures to Christ? These Scriptures witness that the Christ would be the Son of God. They plainly told that He would be rejected and put to death by His own people. The resurrection of Christ is plainly revealed in the Psalms, and it is surely inferred in Isaiah 53.

How can Rabbi Kokler extol the Sermon on the Mount, and not believe that Jesus was God? There was nothing more holy than the law of God written on the tables of stone. In that Sermon on the Mount, Jesus of Nazareth did not hesitate to quote the law and then say, “But I say unto you.” A mere man would not have dared to do this. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-44). In the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus of Nazareth said, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? … and in Thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-23).

Who is this Man who prophesies that in the last day when sinners are brought to judgment they will call Him Lord? Who is this man who dares to picture Himself as Judge of all? Is He a mere man who takes the words of God into His lips and says, “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity?”

Yet this is the Jesus of the Gospels; this is the Jesus of the Beatitudes; this is the Jesus of the Golden Rule. If He were not God He was a blasphemer. He was not a blasphemer. He was “The truth,” and all His words were true. If His words were true, He was the One whose name is, “Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” He was David’s Lord as well as David’s son, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit Thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies Thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1).

The angels called Him Lord when He was born, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The disciples called Him Lord with His commendation during His life, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well for so I am” (John 13:13). The dying thief called Him Lord when hanging on the cross, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Thomas called Him Lord in resurrection, “My Lord, and my God” (John 20:28)”.

The One who taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father which art in Heaven” continually referred to God as “My Father.” He said, “I and My Father are one” (John 10: 30) and, “As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father” (John 10:15). The Jews took up stones to stone Him because He said God was His Father; as they said, “Thou being a man, makest thyself God.” They did not stone Him because He was God.

How can the Rabbis accept the Jesus of the Mount of Olives and reject the Christ of prophecy? Was Christ not to be more than a man? The prophecies foretold His coming as a man of the tribe of Judah and of the house of David. But the prophecies bore abundant witness to Christ’s equality with God.

In the very first prophecy of the coming One, God Himself intimated that though the coming Messiah would be a man, He would be more than a man. In the garden of Eden, God said to the Serpent who was the author of the ruin upon Adam and Eve, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15).

The coming One would be a man, for He was to be the woman’s seed: but He would be more than a man, for He conquers Adam’s conqueror. Why did God not say, Adam’s seed? Why the seed of the woman, if not for virgin birth?

Michael the greatest of the angels dare not bring against the devil a railing accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 9). This One who is a man, for He has a heel, is mightier than Michael, for He bruised Satan’s head.

David in Psalm 45 calls Him a man, for He is anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows (verse 7). In verse 6 this One whom God anoints is Himself called God; “Thy throne O God, is for ever and ever.” In this wonderful Psalm, “The King” is both a man and God.

Isaiah calls the coming One “a child born, and a Son given”; His name is both, “The Mighty God” and “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Zechariah calls the coming One a shepherd. God Himself is the speaker in Zech. 13:7, where He says, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” The smitten One is a man, and yet He is Jehovah’s fellow.

This is the Jesus of Prophecy; He is Christ the Lord. This is the Jesus of Paul’s theology, and the Gospel Jesus too. This is Christ who is the Son of God, and who is Lord of all.

What a wonderful person He is! The knowledge of His Deity enhances the grace of His lowliness. He did not “cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street” (Isa. 42:2). Our Lord was not a public agitator. He did not advertise His greatness. He never took advantage of popular acclaim. When they would have made Him a king He withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

Dr. Philip Schaff writes:

“Heaven and earth seem to move around Him (Christ our Lord) as their center. What a contrast! A child in a manger, yet bearing the salvation of the world; a child hated and feared, yet longed for and loved; a child poor and despised, yet honored and adored,—beset by danger yet marvellously preserved; a child setting the stars in heaven, the city of Jerusalem, the shepherds of Judea, and the sages of the East, in motion—attracting the best elements of the world, and repelling all that is dark and evil! This conception is too deep, too sublime, too significant, to be the invention of illiterate fishermen.”

“Both His person and His work, every word He spoke, and every act He performed, has the freshness, brilliance, and vigor of youth, and will retain it to the end of time. All other things fade away; every book of man loses its interest after repeated reading: but the gospel of Jesus never wearies; it becomes more interesting the more it is read, and grows deeper at every attempt to fathom its depth.”

“He was a humble individual, without friends and patrons in the Sanhedrin or at the court of Herod. He never mingled in familiar intercourse with the religious or social leaders of the nation, whom He had startled in His twelfth year by His questions and answers. He selected His disciples from among the illiterate fishermen of Galilee, and promised them no reward in this world but a part in the bitter cup of His sufferings. He dined with publicans and sinners, and mingled with the common people, without ever condescending to their low manners and habits. He was so poor, that He had no place on which to rest His head. He depended, for the supply of His modest wants, on the voluntary contributions of a few pious females; and the purse was in the hands of a thief and a traitor.”

“There never was in this world a life so unpretending, modest, and lowly in its outward form and condition, and yet producing such extraordinary effects upon all ages, nations, and classes of men.”

“Under His guidance a dozen poor, unlearned fishermen of Galilee, who without Him would have been buried in obscurity, have become the greatest teachers and benefactors of mankind! Where shall we look for a parallel case in history?”

“Jesus Christ is the most sacred, the most glorious, the most certain of all facts; arrayed in a beauty and majesty which throws the “starry heavens above us and the moral law within us” into obscurity, and fills us truly with ever growing reverence and awe. He shines forth with the self evidencing light of the noonday sun. He is too great, too pure, too perfect, to have been invented by any sinful and erring man. His character and claims are confirmed by the sublimest doctrine, the purest ethics, the mightiest miracles, the grandest spiritual kingdom, and are daily and hourly exhibited in the virtues and graces of all who yield to the regenerating and sanctifying power of His spirit and example. The Lord Jesus Christ meets and satisfies all moral and religious aspirations. The soul if left to its noblest impulses and aspirations, instinctively turns to Him, as the needle to the magnet, as the flower to the sun, as the panting hart to the fresh fountain. We are made for Him, and ‘our heart is without rest until it rests in Him.’ He commands our assent, He owns our affections and adoration. We cannot look upon Him without spiritual benefit. We cannot think of Him without being elevated above all that is low and mean, and encouraged to all that is good and noble. The very hem of His garment is healing to the touch. One hour spent in His communion outweighs all the pleasures of sin. He is the most precious gift of a merciful God to a fallen world. In Him are the treasures of wisdom; in Him the fountain of pardon and peace; in Him the only hope and comfort in this world and that which is to come… He is the glory of the past, the life of the present, and the hope of the future… According to an old Jewish proverb: ‘The secret of man is the secret of the Messiah.’ Christ is the great central light of history, and, at the same time the Light of every soul: He alone can solve the mystery of our being, and fulfill the longings of our feelings after peace and happiness.”