This is the second of four short commentaries by Bonar.
The Graciousness of the Lord Jesus
‘If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’—1 Peter 2:3.
THE word ‘if so be’ does not imply uncertainty as to this tasting, as if it were still a doubtful thing to a believing man whether he had tasted that the Lord was gracious, or, indeed, whether He was gracious at all. It means rather, ‘since ye have tasted;’ and assumes this as the beginning of their religious life, their Christian history.
The following points will bring out all this: (1) The Lord; (2) His graciousness; (3) our tasting of this graciousness; (4) the effects produced on us by this.
I. The Lord.— It is the Lord Jesus. This is the common name for Him throughout the epistles. It is a name of honor and glory. In heaven His name is the Lamb; for there is no danger of His being denied His honor there: on earth it is the Lord, to keep before us His dignity and power. He is the Lord as truly as the Saviour. His graciousness, which we taste, is the graciousness of the Lord,— the Lord of all,— Lord of lords.
II. His graciousness.— It is His love, His tender love, or tender mercies to the sinner, that are here spoken of. He is gracious, compassionate, loving, merciful, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. We know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see His graciousness in His incarnation; in His words and deeds of grace; in His cross and grave. All that He did, spoke, suffered on earth, were declarations and proofs of His grace. He is full of grace and truth. This is His character. We do not need to touch the question, of whom this graciousness concerns; for it is of the gracious One and His character simply that the text speaks. What He is in Himself is the great question. He is the infinitely gracious One. This graciousness is free, infinite, unchangeable. This is the vessel of fullness out of which we drink. God is love; Christ is gracious; this is the core of the gospel.
III. Our tasting it.— The word ‘tasting’ is used in Scripture both as to the evil and the good, the bitter and the sweet. Death is said to be ‘tasted,’ and so is the word of God; and so here is the graciousness of Christ. It means our thorough entering into the nature and properties of an object, whatever that may be. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’ We taste that the Lord is gracious when we relish and enjoy Him and His grace. This tasting is not something mysterious or unintelligible: it is the soul’s appreciation of the love of Christ, in the reception of the record concerning Him. We feel our need, our poverty, our sin; and we feel in Christ something which precisely meets all these. We drink in the good news as the thirsty man drinks the water; we feed on them as the hungry man does on the bread; we relish them as the tongue the sweetness of the honeycomb. Christ is realized as precious, suitable, sufficient, especially in His grace, His free love. This is dearer to us than gold, sweeter than honey or the honey-comb.
IV. The effects of this.— These are many, not one. This graciousness of the Lord thus filling us, and enjoyed by us, produces wonderful results in the soul.
(1.) It is life to us.— Its quickening effects are marvelous. It rouses us from depression and death, infusing heavenly life. Every feature of Christ is in its measure and way quickening, but especially His grace; for this is, above all others, that which a dead soul needs.
(2.) It is gladness to us.— No grace, no gladness; uncertain grace, uncertain gladness; scanty grace, scanty gladness. That there is such a thing as grace in God is of itself cheering; that it has come down to us here on earth is yet more so; that it has done so through such a channel as the Son of God,—that this Son of God is Himself infinitely gracious,—this is glad tidings to a sinner.
(3.) It is liberty to us.— No grace, no liberty; no knowledge of grace, no sense of liberty; uncertain grace, uncertain liberty. But this grace, so free, so sure, so boundless, is the breaking of all bonds. It sets the soul wholly and for ever free. The sight of such grace as there is in this gracious One is deliverance from bondage and fear.
(4.) It is holiness.— It makes us holy men. We are not holy before we taste the grace, but become so by tasting it. It sanctifies, purifies, conforms us to the likeness of the gracious One. It leads us to lay aside all malice and all guile, and to desire the pure milk of the word. This is the result of the good news received, of the grace tasted. It transforms us into new men, according to the nature of that heavenly thing which we have tasted. The more and the longer we taste it, the more are we purified by it. It operates powerfully and gloriously. It is like sunrise chasing away the night; it is like the early and latter rain, fertilizing and refreshing the ground, making the wilderness and the solitary place to be glad, and the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose.
Bonar, H. (1883). Light and Truth: Or, Bible Thoughts and Themes, The Lesser Epistles (pp. 347–350). London: J. Nisbet & Co.