Not in the sense that he is not the man to do what he has said, or not God, to keep what he has promised; no, in a very different sense.
Pause is given by the fact that he who invites is, and insists on being, the definite historic person he was 1800 years ago, and that he as this definite person, and living under the conditions then obtaining, spoke these words of invitation.—He is not, and does not wish to be, one about whom one may simply know something from history (i.e. world history, history proper, as against Sacred History) ; for from history one cannot “learn” anything about him, the simple reason being that nothing can be “known” about him.—He does not wish to be judged in a human way, from the results of his life; that is, he is and wishes to be, a rock of offense and the object of faith. To judge him after the consequences of his life is a blasphemy, for being God, his life, and the very fact that he was then living and really did live, is infinitely more important than all the consequences of it in history.
Who spoke these words of invitation?
He that invites. Who is he? Jesus Christ. Which Jesus Christ? He that sits in glory on the right side of his Father? No. From his seat of glory he spoke not a single word. Therefore it is Jesus Christ in his lowliness, and in the condition of lowliness, who spoke these words.
Is then Jesus Christ not the same? Yes, verily, he is today, and was yesterday, and 1800 years ago, the same who abased himself, assuming the form of a servant—the Jesus Christ who spake these words of invitation. It is also he who hath said that he would return again in glory. In his return in glory he is, again, the same Jesus Christ; but this has not yet come to pass.
Is he then not in glory now? Assuredly, that the Christian believes. But it was in his lowly condition that he spoke these words; he did not speak them from his glory. And about his return in glory nothing can be known, for this can in the strictest sense be a matter of belief only. But a believer one cannot become except by having gone to him in his lowly condition—to him, the rock of offense and the object of faith. In other shape he does not exist, for only thus did he exist. That he will return in glory is indeed expected, but can be expected and believed only by him who believes, and has believed, in him as he was here on earth. Jesus Christ is, then, the same; yet lived he 1800 years ago in debasement, and is transfigured only at his return. As yet he has not returned; therefore he is still the one in lowly guise about whom we believe that he will return in glory. Whatever he said and taught, every word he spoke, becomes eo ipso untrue if we give it the appearance of having been spoken by Christ in his glory. Nay, he is silent. It is the lowly Christ who speaks. The space of time between (i.e. between his debasement and his return in glory) which is at present about 1800 years, and will possibly become many times 1800—this space of time, or else what this space of time tries to make of Christ, the worldly information about him furnished by world history or church history, as to who Christ was, as to who it was who really spoke these words—all this does not concern us, is neither here nor there, but only serves to corrupt our conception of him, and thereby renders untrue these words of invitation.