Sunday, September 7, 2014

From Despised to Exalted - Jesus.

“Did you hear that? He has confessed to saying he is God. He has blasphemed. He is guilty of
death!” The rest of the Sanhedrin agreed. Jesus had condemned himself. What brought this about? He was put under oath as to whether or not he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  In Matthew 26:64 came his reply “Yes, it is as you say. But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  This was a quote from Daniel 7:13.

The authorities had him in their grip. This Jesus had beaten them in debates, spoken harshly against their abuse of power and charmed the people with parables and miracles. This man some of them must have known or known about since childhood caused them nothing but trouble. He claimed he and the Father were one (John 10:30) and to see him was to see the invisible Father (John 14:9). How outrageous. Now he must die.  And he did on the cross under Roman supervision.

Why then do untold millions worship Him? Why do others fear and fight against Him? It is a waste of time if He is dead. It is obscene if the criminal charges of blasphemy under Jewish law and insurrection in Roman law are valid. What caused this catastrophic upheaval and the cancellation of the verdict? The resurrection from the dead on the third day! This was foretold by Jesus Himself using the illustration of Jonah. It is also underscored in Isaiah 53:11–12.

We look upon the resurrection as securing our salvation. True! However it goes way, way beyond that. It is the seal of validation to who Jesus is, what He has achieved and the endorsement of the truth of Scripture. No other record could express this so succinctly and powerfully as the few words of Thomas in the upper room a week after the resurrection. Thomas the doubter wasn’t present the previous week and said he would not believe until he saw and touched the nail and spear prints in Jesus body. When Jesus came to him this disciple cried out: “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28)

Two thousand years later these words still resonate with awe. However, we may miss a mind shattering concept for this Jewish man, as well as the other Jewish followers. To call Jesus not only the Christ (Messiah) but ‘Lord and God’ would have challenged his creed. ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’ (Deuteronomy 6:4). Jesus didn’t rebuke him or deny it. Now this presents us with a dilemma. Can this be true? Is it in harmony with the thirty-nine books Thomas believed in? What does this mean for understanding the very nature of God?

The Christian Faith holds to and bears witness to the Triune nature of God. To our understanding God is, Father, Son (Word) and Holy Spirit, one God, three personalities. In Genesis 1:26 we get our first glimpse of God. ‘Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”’

Elohim is the descriptive word for God used in the Genesis verses. This term for God is plural in form. It is expressing plurality in unity and is a feature of the Bible’s understanding of the greatest of great mysteries, God Himself. For when Elohim is used in relation to God it is always accompanied by verbs and adjectives in the singular. In Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning Elohim created’, the verb ‘create’ is singular. In Deuteronomy 32:39, “See now that I myself am He! There is no god (Elohim) besides me.” Also read Isaiah 45:5, 22-23 and elsewhere.

Yahweh or Jehovah is the covenant name for God to Adam, Abraham and Israel. The quote from Deuteronomy 6:4 is their creedal statement. It could be translated ‘The Yahweh, our Elohim (plural), the Yahweh is One.’ We get a sense of that in Isaiah 6:3 when we hear the Seraphs singing to God “Holy, Holy, Holy”. In Revelation 4:8 the similar refrain is repeated. Does this help you to understand the cry of Jesus on the cross when He said “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”? There on the cross was the one called Emmanuel, God with us. For the first and last time in eternity and time God the Son was cut adrift from God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Christ’s cry expresses the unfathomable cost the Godhead was prepared to pay to redeem you and me. Finally when commissioning the apostles and others to worldwide evangelism Jesus told them to baptise believers into the Name (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirt.

If we are honest with ourselves and our theology trying to grasp the concept of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9 KJV) leaves us gasping. This is why, I believe, the Bible directs our attention to Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. He is understandable. We can relate to Him. Our Lord also stressed the point that ‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.” (John 12:44). When we claim Jesus as our Christ (Messiah) and Saviour He promised to come and dwell within our being. Surely a wonderful yet mysterious gift of grace. Too few realise an awesome fact mentioned by the apostle John. 1 John 2:23–24 ‘whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.’ And do not forget that you are called the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in the most awesome result of the cross and resurrection when Jesus becomes our Lord and Saviour the Triune God transforms our lives. We are no longer slums of sin. We become the temples of the Living Triune God. Praise His Name!

Below are a small selection of references to show you how the God of the Old Testament revealed Himself in Jesus of the Gospels and the other 23 books. This isn’t exhaustive. Do your own cross referencing. Then you will stand with Thomas and recite his words to Jesus “my Lord and my God.”

Yahweh                                             Title                                       Jesus

Exodus 3:14                                         I AM                                         John 8:58.  18:5-6

Isaiah 40:28.  60:2                            Creator                                    John 1:3. Colossians 1:16

Isaiah 45:22.  43:11                            Saviour                                   John 4:42.   Titus 1:3-4.

Isaiah 60:19-20                                   Light                                       John 8:12

Psalm 23:1                                          Shepherd                                 John 10:11

Isaiah 41:4                                         First & Last                               Revelation 22:13

Hosea 13:14                                        Redeemer                                 1 Corinthians 10:4

Isaiah 45:23                                       Lord                                           Philippians 2:11

Psalm 35:23                                       My Lord & my God                 John 20:28

Joel 2:32                                             The Name of the Lord            Romans 10:9-13


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