THE ROOT AND THE STAR

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HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. —Revelation 22:16

Nothing is more notable in Jesus than the union of apparent contradictories. Qualities of the most diverse characters are brought into a perfect harmony with Him. When we set out to copy any brother, we are wrested from our true development. For other lives, even at their finest, are fragmentary and incomplete. But nobody who aims at following Christ can ever be false to his true self, for the character of Christ is universal. He combines the most opposing temperaments and reconciles diversities of being. Everything that all are meant to be, our blessed Savior actually was. That is the truth which lies in the assertion, so often fiercely combated, that our Lord was not a man but man. Speaking evangelically, it is only the redeemed who are in Christ. Not till we are born again are we in Him as the branch is in the vine. Yet in the matter of ideal character, in all its infinite diversity, there is a mystical sense in which our Savior embraces the whole human race. Nobody becomes anybody else when he aims at imitating Jesus. He grows nearer to his highest self when he becomes more like his Lord. For all the partial ideas of life which give to it an infinite variety blend into a perfect unity in the perfect character of Jesus.

The Union of the Diverse

Now, something of that reconcilement is seen in the imagery of our text. Between a root and a star there is a world of difference, and yet Jesus tells us He is both. He takes objects from two different worlds, and in both of them, He finds Himself. He selects things that seem to have no unity, and He compares Himself with both of them. He brings together in single sentence objects that are utterly unlike, and yet He sees in each of them something that is an image of His being. Take these figures separately and they are rich in spiritual significance. Take them together and they are big with hope for all the diversities of character. Men who are as different from each other as a root is different from a star may find all that they seek for in the Saviour.

One notes, for instance, how this twofold figure combines the local and the universal. A root is embedded in a single spot; a star rains its influence on the world. If a root is to grow it needs a certain soil, for there and there alone it finds its nutriment. To that environment must come the searcher if he wants to get his hand upon the root. But in the crowded city and the lonely glen and far away on the solitudes of the ocean a man may lift his eyes towards the heavens and be comforted by the shining of a star. The root is grounded in one place; the star sheds its light on every place. The root is fixed in a definite locality; the star is the joy of all localities. And then one thinks of Jesus, born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth and yet today the light of the world. Go to Africa, and there you find Him. Travel to India, and He is them. Multitudes who have never been to Bethlehem have experienced the power of His Name. Rooted deep in the rich soil of Palestine, the image of a root is not enough. On sinful men a million miles from Palestine, He has shone as the bright and morning star.

The Union of the Hidden and the Evident

Another aspect of this twofold figure is the union of the hidden and the evident. A root is something concealed from observation; a star is conspicuous in its shining. There are roots which lie very near the surface, and there are others which run very deep. But one mark of every root is this, that it shuns the light and moves into the darkness. And just there, between root and star, what a world of difference there is, for a star is something that is seen. Nobody in the brightest day can see a root. It lives and moves concealed from human eyes. But in the darkest night, the stars are shining in the wonder of the heavens. And does not one feel at once that it takes both, infinitely diverse though they are, to picture for us the mystery of Jesus? The kingdom cometh not with observation, yet Jesus could not be hidden. The mighty world knew not when He came, and yet He is the light of every man. He lives in the secret of the heart and in our hidden being has His dwelling, and yet in the outward and habitual life, He reveals the shining of His presence.

The Unity of the Earthly and the Heavenly

And then lastly in this twofold figure, we have united the earthly and the heavenly. For a root is one of the children of the earth and a star one of the glories of the sky. You find the root where common feet are treading, where lovers walk and little children play. You find the star beyond all human reaching in the infinite heights of heaven that are above us. And then we think of Him, whom we discover on our Emmaus roads, while He shines on us from the altitude of glory. One cannot explain these things nor understand them. They are mysteries beyond our fathoming. How can one be here, where the green grass is, and yet radiant in a world beyond our reach? And then we remember how these contradictions were reconciled in the consciousness of Him, who called Himself a root, and then–a star.

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Sir Godfrey Gregg
Sir Godfrey Gregg is one of the Administrators and managing Director of this site