Monday, November 20, 2017

JESUS THE GODMAN


JESUS THE GOD-MAN

(See Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 8, paras 6-8)

Introduction

The redemption promised to the Old Testament believers came to pass through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among His people. He is the One who lived the perfect life by keeping God’s Law for His elect people. He is the One who laid down His life to pay for the sins of His elect people. All who trust in Him alone for salvation are His elect people. Therefore, whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. And at the heart of the Gospel message is the requirement for people to believe in Him.

But what about His people in the Old Testament? What about those who lived before the incarnation of the Word? What about those who lived before the 2nd Person in the Trinity took to Himself human flesh? How were the Old Testament saints saved? Well, the Old Testament saints were saved the same way the New Testament saints, i.e., you and I are saved. We all are saved – whether Old or New Testament – by Christ’s perfect life and atoning death.

This is the grace of God toward us. Which is to say that the God-man Jesus Christ kept the Covenant of Works perfectly, and also paid the price owed for the breaking of it. This is what we mean when we say that we believe in Him. We believe that He is the perfect Man who kept God’s covenant Law perfectly. And we believe that He paid the price we owe for not keeping God’s Law perfectly. And we believe that everything Jesus did was as our substitute or representative. Which is to say that we believe that He stood in for us. He represented us, and continues forevermore, to represent us, before God.

We believe, therefore, that God has accepted the perfect work of His Son. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is testimony enough that God’s justice has been fully satisfied by the life and death of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament saints were saved through believing that the Promised One was coming to satisfy God’s justice. And the New Testament saints, (including you and me) are saved through believing that the Promised One has come and has satisfied God’s justice.

Therefore, Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all the saints of God whether Old or New Testament. He is the Saviour of all who believe.

The Person of the God-man

If you were asked what you think is the most valuable thing in the world, how would you answer? Would you say your spouse? Or your children? Or your family? We would answer that question about the most valuable thing in the world by stating what was most valuable to us personally. Maybe it’s your car, or your house, or your combine-harvester!

But what is it that gives a thing value in the first place? Is it your love for it? Or is it your need of it? Or perhaps both? Well, surely you can see that Jesus Christ is the most valuable thing in the world? For isn’t He what the world needs and is He not what we love most? But, someone might say that Jesus Christ is not in the world. And if He is not in the world how can He be the most valuable thing in the world? But of course He’s in the world! He’s been in the world from the very beginning!

Genesis 3:8, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” So, if the LORD God was walking in the Garden of Eden way back in the beginning, then Christ has been in the world from the beginning!

We need to be careful here, don’t we? We’re not saying that Christ in human flesh was in the Garden. But we are saying that the One who took to Himself human flesh and became Jesus at His incarnation was in the Garden. So, we’re saying that the One who, in the fullness of the time, became Jesus was in the world at a time prior to becoming Jesus. He was in the world at a previous time because He is God, and as God, He is not bound by time as we are.

But the point I make, is that when the Word became flesh, i.e., when Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, He didn’t become another person, or a different person. He remained the same Person He always was, always is, and always will be. His incarnation didn’t change the fact that He is God the Son, the 2nd Person in the Trinity. The God-man Jesus Christ has two distinct natures – the Divine and the human. But His divine nature is not changed or altered by His human nature. Nor is His human nature changed or altered in any way by His divine nature. As the Scripture says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8. Therefore, if we are going to talk about the most valuable thing in the world, we need to talk about Jesus Christ, don’t we?

Jesus Christ is God in the world. He is our Immanuel, which means, God with us. Therefore, because His human nature is united to His divine nature, He is the most valuable thing in the world. How so? Well, God is infinite in being and perfection. And if Christ is infinite in His being and perfection He must give infinite worth to His humanity. And if He gives infinite worth to His humanity, He also must give infinite worth to the perfect deeds done in His human body.

Are you still with me? Think about it this way: Jesus Christ has saved us from our sins. What do our sins deserve? According to Scripture, we deserve to suffer the wrath of God forever in Hell for our sins. Hell is the place of everlasting torment. Jesus speaks about Hell being the place of “…fire that shall never be quenched— ‘where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched’” Mark 9:43&44. He says in Matthew 25:46, “These [i.e., the wicked] shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

So the question then is this?  If it’s everlasting punishment we deserve for our sins, how could Christ pay that debt of everlasting punishment we owe to God? The answer is that He, on account of being Divine, is of infinite value. Therefore any work that He does, has done, or will do, is of infinite value. If He were not a Divine Person His life and death would not be of infinite worth. And if His life and death are not of infinite worth, then how can He pay the penalty of everlasting punishment?

Everlasting is a long time, isn’t it? In fact everlasting is forever and ever! Well, that’s what Christ has paid for a numberless multitude! All of humanity is deserving of everlasting death, i.e., conscious torment in the fires of Hell forever. But Jesus Christ, on account of His Person, has paid that price in full! His perfect life and atoning death is infinitely more than enough to pay for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” His work of redemption is enough to cover all the sins of everyone in the world who will believe in Him for salvation. Therefore, the work of the Mediator is enough to cover the sins of those believers who were in the world before His incarnation.

The value, effect and benefit of this redemption have been communicated to God’s chosen people since the beginning of the world. The Old Testament people saw the Seed of the Woman who would crush the Serpent’s head in the promises, types, and animal sacrifices. Immediately after man sinned in the Garden God promised that in time the Seed of the Woman would crush the Serpent’s head. The Old Testament people saw a type of this, e.g., in Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and also king David; all crushed their enemies. The victories these men accomplished under God were typical of – or were pictures of – the ultimate victory of Christ over the Devil.

Circumcision and Passover were, of course, types of Christ and what He was coming to do. And with the Old Testament sacrifices they revealed that the Promised One was going to take away their sins. John says in Revelation 13:8b that Jesus Christ is “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Therefore, it is on account of His Divinity He has been in the world since its beginning. And He has been successfully communicating to His elect in all ages progressively, what He was going to do, and now what He has done.

He was and is able to do this because of who He is as a Person. Jesus Christ is the God-man. Which is to say that He is One Divine Person with two distinct natures forever.

The Perseverance of the God-man

The God-man will persevere forever with and for His people because He is One Divine Person with two distinct natures forever. And He will persevere by interceding for them forever. And He will continue with them by revealing to them the revealed truths of salvation in and by the Word. And He will persist in effectively persuading them to believe and obey by His Spirit and His Word. And He will carry on ruling in their hearts by His Word and Spirit. And He will persevere in defeating all His people’s enemies by His almighty power and His wisdom. And He will do so in such manner and ways as are most agreeable to His wonderful and unsearchable administration of all things. So, in a word, the God-man will persevere with us and for us! 

He intercedes for us before God on the strength and value of the perfect life He lived, and His infinite sacrifice at Calvary. Mark 10:45, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 1 Timothy 2:5&6, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave His life a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

So, His life of infinite worth was given to ransom us, to redeem us, to buy us back from Hell. He kept the Covenant of Works perfectly for all who believe in Him and His works. And His infinite sacrifice, i.e., the sacrifice of Himself, was to fully satisfy God’s Divine justice for us. Therefore, all the sins of all the saints, past, present, and future have been paid for in full. For, “…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8b.

This perfect life and infinite sacrifice is communicated to all who will believe. The God-man makes absolutely, positively certain that they will hear and believe. Therefore, He effectively applies and communicates to them the redemption He has purchased for them. Jesus, in John 10:14-16 says, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” So, His sheep hear His voice. His voice is heard when the Word and the Spirit work together in the elect person.

He brings His flock into the fold through the proclamation of His Gospel. His Gospel is preached, and will be preached, every Sunday in every faithful congregation until He comes again. Where a person keeps on repenting and keeps on believing in the Gospel, there is the God-man applying and communicating to that person His purchased redemption. For the Spirit works with the Word effectively persuading that person to believe and obey the Gospel.

And Jesus says in John 6:37-39, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.”

So, the God-man is going to persevere with all the Father has given Him and raise us up at the last day. And He will continue to rule in our hearts until that last day, and then forevermore. He rules in our hearts by His Spirit and His Word. As even the Old Testament psalmist says, “Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” Psalm 119:11. And the following is written in Psalm 110:1&2, “‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!”

So, the God-man rules in our hearts by His Word and His Spirit. And His enemies are being made His footstool – even now! The Apostle Paul speaking of Christ says, “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet” 1 Corinthians 15:25. (This, of course, is not suggesting that His reign will come to an end when all enemies are put under His feet. For that would mean that His enemies will – albeit inadvertently – conquer Him!)

So we see then that He will persevere till all enemies are under His feet. And since all Christ’s enemies are our enemies we are more than conquerors in Him! And since it is God who is making His enemies into His footstool His kingdom cannot fail! For God is almighty in power and in wisdom. And Jesus Christ is the incarnate omnipotent and all-wise God. In this we see that the God-man does His work of Mediator according to both His natures.

In fact, because of the unity of His Person, Scripture Itself sometimes attributes what is proper to one nature to the Person named according to the other nature.  Luke records the Apostle Paul saying to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” And John 3:13, where Jesus says, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”

One perhaps wouldn’t ordinarily speak of God shedding His blood because God is Spirit and therefore has no blood to shed. And neither perhaps would one ordinarily speak of the Son of Man as having come down from heaven, since the name “Son of Man” suggests a human person, i.e., a man. But we may and do say these things because Jesus Christ is the God-man, which is to say, that because He is One Divine Person with two distinct natures, anything that pertains to either nature is rightfully ascribed to His Person. Did God shed His own blood? Some prefer to translate that verse to say that God shed the blood of His own: “His own”, as in His own Son. But regardless, any blood that was shed was shed only by the Person who is Jesus Christ, which is to say that the God-man shed His blood.

We need to be very careful, therefore, not to be guilty of transferring or ascribing His Divine attributes to His humanity, or His human attributes to His Divinity. To be sure, Christ’s Divinity gives infinite value to His humanity. But this is not going a millimetre towards alleging that His humanity has any attributes that belong to His divinity.

An example of this error would be the very popular teaching that the resurrected Jesus is able to walk through solid doors. In John 20:19 we are told only that when the disciples were in a room and when the doors were shut Jesus came and stood in the midst. Is this verse teaching that Jesus de-materialized in one place and re-materialized at will in another, like Mr Spock in Star Trek? I put it to you that you are confusing the two natures of Christ if you think this. You are mixing His Divinity with His humanity. Therefore, be very careful not to go beyond what the Scripture is actually stating. How Jesus came to be in that locked room is not stated. But I would think long and hard about the fact that Jesus is One Divine Person with two distinct natures, human and Divine forever, before I would draw any conclusions!

But alas! Rome with their doctrine of Transubstantiation teaches that Jesus Christ can be in more than one place bodily at their Mass. And, arguably, so do the Lutherans with their doctrine of Consubstantiation. Both these doctrines, if you don’t know, have to do with the physical i.e., the bodily presence of Christ at the Lord’s Supper, i.e., the ubiquity of Christ’s humanity. But we believe that Jesus Christ after His bodily resurrection was raised bodily into Heaven where He remains bodily till He returns bodily after all His enemies have been made His footstool. Therefore the God-man is in Heaven bodily right now, and He is interceding on our behalf. For as John says in 1 John 2:1, “…we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

What does an advocate do? He pleads the cause of others. Therefore Jesus Christ is in Heaven pleading the cause of His elect seed before His Father. And He is doing this as our Representative. He is advocating for us on the strength or value of the perfect human life He lived, and His atoning human death. But if He is presently no longer one of us, (i.e., if His Adamic nature has changed and is no longer Adamic) He would be doing a poor job of representing us human beings! An angel might as well represent us! But Scripture says that Jesus remains like us in every way apart from sin.

Hebrews 4:14&15, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has Passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” So, we see then that our High Priest sympathizes with us because He is, and remains as, one of us even in Heaven. As Hebrews 2:14 testifies, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same…”

I put it to you, that if Christ’s human nature has taken on attributes belonging to His divinity then He no longer is fully and truly Man; and therefore cannot be called the second Man or last Adam. And if He is no longer fully and truly Man, then we don’t have a true man, i.e., a true representative interceding for us in Heaven! If we don’t have a true man in Heaven interceding for us, then we are doomed to perish (as He must have done – if indeed He no longer has a human nature!) But the work of Christ in His role as our Mediator is not over and never will be! Yes, His High Priestly work of offering up Himself as the sacrificial Lamb on the cross is finished (John 19:30). But His High Priestly work as our intercessor is not finished and never can be finished. For a priest, as you know, was one who was appointed and anointed by God to offer up sacrifices to God for the sins of his people AND also to intercede for them.

His work as intercessor will never end, because that is what the Scriptures say! Hebrews 7:24&25, “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” How much plainer could it be? He, i.e., the God-man Jesus Christ, continues forever. But if either of His two natures changes, even for a moment, He no longer continues as the same Godman for that moment. But we are told here that He continues forever in His role as Mediator between God and men. For He saves to the uttermost, i.e., He saves forever, those who come to God through Him. How is it possible for Him to save to the uttermost, even forever? Well, it’s because He always lives to make intercession for them, which is to say that His role as Mediator is forevermore!

Therefore He will be making intercession for us as the God-man forever. This is good news to all saints in all ages!

Conclusion

Who is the God-man? He is Jesus Christ, who is one Divine Person with two distinct natures, which natures will never be changed, combined, or confused. Hebrews 10:12&13, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.”

Notice that these verses are saying that this Man sat down at the right hand of God. And notice what this Man is waiting for, and for how long He will be sitting there. He is waiting till such time as His enemies are made His footstool. Therefore He is going to persevere for as long as it takes to make His enemies His footstool. And once His enemies have been subdued they will remain subdued as His footstool forever.

He is the Promised Seed of the Woman who has crushed the Serpent’s head. He crushed the Serpent’s head by becoming the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world who was slain in the fullness of the time. Therefore, He conquered His enemies in principle at Calvary’s cross. Now He is waiting till God has fully put that principle into practice.

If Christ crushed the Serpent’s head in principle as the God-man, then as the God-man He will persevere till He has overcome all His enemies in practice. It is a Man who is sitting on the throne till God makes His enemies His footstool. Therefore, His human nature must remain united to His Divine nature. Otherwise, we who were once His enemies, but have now been conquered, (i.e., converted by His grace), have no Mediator, no High Priest, no Advocate interceding for us in heaven! For if either of Christ’s two natures changes, or become combined, or confused at anytime with the other (e.g., in order to pass through a solid door!), then that’s the time we are without a proper Mediator! But let’s be thankful that the perseverance of the God-man is forever, because the Person of the God-man is forever.

Therefore, we will never be without our Mediator – not even for a moment.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

THE MEDIATOR'S WORK



THE MEDIATOR’S WORK

(See Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 8, paras 3-5)

Introduction

A mediator, as you know, is a person who is called in to settle differences or to reconcile differences between two disputing or warring parties. A mediator is go-between. Another name for a mediator might be a “peacemaker.” It is the work of a mediator to make peace.

The God-man Jesus Christ is the God-appointed and God-anointed Mediator between God and man in God’s covenant dispute with fallen man. Make no mistake, man’s war with God is covenantal. Man declared war with God by eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. By so doing, man broke God’s covenant and covenanted instead with the Devil against God. Therefore, if there ever was going to be any peace between God and men, the Devil would need to be taken care of, and man’s sin would need to be atoned for.

So, we can see that the Covenant Mediator had His work cut out for Him. In order to bring peace between God and men He would need to slay the Serpent. And, as representative, He would need to perfectly uphold all the conditional requirements of the original covenant man broke, i.e., the Covenant of Works. And, He would also need to pay the price owed to God’s justice for the breaking of this same Covenant of Works. For, how else could fallen man be reconciled to God? How else could there ever be any peace between God and men?

Before God’s justice is satisfied, the Covenant of Works needs to be kept perfectly by a man. And the penalty for the broken Covenant of Works needs to be paid. Jesus Christ, in His work of Mediator, has done this. He alone is the Covenant Guarantor – He is the Covenant Surety.

Speaking of Christ the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 7:20-22, “And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath, (for they [i.e., the Old Testament priests] have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: ‘The LORD has sworn and will not relent, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’), by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.”

A priest, as you know, was one who was appointed and anointed by God to intercede for the people and to offer up sacrifices to God for their sins. Well, Christ is the great High Priest who, through the eternal Spirit, offered up the sacrifice of Himself for the sins of His people. His sacrifice is everlasting because He is a Priest forever. And, being eternal God and man in One Divine Person, He is able to represent both parties (God and man), and His sacrifice is of infinite value

The Mediator’s Equipping

The Mediator is also our Surety, our Guarantor. Which is to say that Christ Jesus is the guarantee that God’s justice will be satisfied. Which is to say that the pre-Fall Covenant of Works will be kept perfectly, and the penalty we owe for our breaking of it will be paid in full.

Man sinned against God by breaking the Covenant of Works. All mankind is part of Adam’s family, naturally and federally. God, being a just God, cannot overlook mankind’s collective sin and our own personal sins. Therefore God had a problem. How was He to save the posterity He had promised to His Son without bypassing His justice? How would He redeem His elect? God can’t just wink at sin. That would be to go against His nature. And God is unchanging in nature. So, God sent His only begotten Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). That’s why the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. It was to destroy the Devil and his works. It was to ensure the Covenant of Works was kept perfectly. And it was to pay the penalty owing by us for the broken Covenant of Works, i.e., God’s Law. And, because it was men who sinned and men who needed to be redeemed, the Word of God incarnated Himself as a Man.

So, the 2nd Person in the Trinity took to Himself a human body, soul, and spirit. And with His human nature thus united to the Divine, He was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure. In other words, at His baptism by John the Baptizer, Jesus Christ was appointed and anointed into His work as Mediator. The Father gave His only begotten Son, the God-man Jesus Christ, the Spirit without measure. He was given the Spirit beyond measure so that He could accomplish His appointed task.

As you know, Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings were given the Holy Spirit to assist them in their office. E.g., 1 Samuel 16:13, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward…” The Spirit was given to David at his anointing to assist him in his role as ruler of Israel. In other words, David received from God the gift of rulership. But David didn’t receive the Holy Spirit without measure – but Jesus did. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Jesus Christ. Which is to say, because He had been given the Holy Spirit without measure, whatever Jesus put His hand to do, He was gifted to do it. He had all the gifts of the Spirit as a Man. Obviously He was a gifted carpenter before He came into His ministry at age thirty.  But when He was anointed with the Holy Spirit He was anointed for the special work of Mediator.


As Mediator he is Prophet, Priest, and King, which office of Mediator includes suretyship. He represents all God’s elect, and is therefore also their Guarantor. He is the Word, i.e., the 2nd Person in the Trinity become flesh. And as such, all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily. As the Triune God cannot be split into parts, so the Father and the Spirit are also present in the Son. And the two natures of Christ, viz, the human and the divine, are not mixed or confused. As Mediator He places a hand on both warring parties. Like a boxing referee He holds us apart. But God has equipped Him with the gift of peacemaker, of bringing together in peace. Christ therefore is gifted in making peace, lasting peace; EVERLASTING peace. Isaiah calls Him “Prince of Peace”. And he says, “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…” Isaiah 9:7a. As Surety He Guarantees our peace with God, and God’s peace with us – everlastingly.

So that you know that it was God who took the initiative in making peace with us, and not we ourselves, Jesus was called by God to be Mediator: “And no man takes this honour to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’ As He also says in another place: ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’” Hebrews 5:4-6. So we see then, that it is not we who make Jesus our Saviour – it is God alone! And Jesus, of course, willingly took up the mantle of Mediator.

The Father has placed all power and judgment in His hand. He has given Him the Royal Sceptre – even a rod of iron! “You shall break them [i.e., the nations] with a rod of iron… Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way when His wrath is kindled but a little” Psalm 2:9a & 12a.

And the Father has given the Son a commandment to carry out the role of Mediator. “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him” John 5:22&23.

So, we see then that Christ Jesus has been fully equipped by God for the role of Mediator.

The Mediator’s Obedience

When we talk about obedience we mean keeping a set of rules or laws. Jesus was placed under the law of God. Galatians 4:4, “…God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law…” Which law was Jesus born or made under? Well, He was born under the administration of the covenant as it stood from the time of Moses. But, since Christ is the Lord of the Law, and not One condemned by the Law, He was born under the Covenant of Works as it stood pre-Fall.

Have you got it? The broken Covenant of Works condemns all mankind on account of our sin. But Jesus has no sin. Therefore, the first administration of the everlasting covenant, i.e., the pre-Fall Covenant of Works, still stands for Him. It’s only those who have broken the Covenant of Works who are condemned by it. But Jesus Christ has been perfectly obedient to the Covenant of Works since His conception. Its curse had no claim on Him. Therefore He is able to pick up where Adam, by His eating of the forbidden fruit, left off.

From His conception and birth Jesus Christ is as Adam was before the Fall – a perfect Man. But this is not to say that Jesus did not suffer from the affects of the sin of others, for He did. For Jesus is fully man, in that like all men He has a body, soul, and spirit. And as such, Jesus endured great anguish of soul, especially as He drew near to the cross. It says of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, in Matthew 26:37-39, “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death…’” Luke 22:44, “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

So this is a suffering of soul, a spiritual suffering that Christ was experiencing. And it was all to do with Him being obedient to God, even in the shadow of the cross. It was the Father’s will that He lay down His life for the flock. As Jesus says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” John 6:38&39. And just before He went to the cross to offer up Himself as sacrifice to purchase everything the Father had promised Him, He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” Mark 14:36.

This agony of soul is, of course, all to do with obedience. Christ here is anticipating the excruciating torment of the crucifixion, i.e., the wrath of God. To be obedient to the Father the Mediator has to endure the cross – i.e., the wrath of God. And what human being would want to go through that agony if He could help it? Well, as you know, Jesus went on to experience the most painful sufferings also in His body. He had said to His disciples beforehand, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” Luke 9:22.

What anguish of body must He have endured by being nailed through the hands and feet to a tree! Let’s not forget the flogging He suffered before they pinned Him there! On the cross He experienced intense agony in His whole being, body and soul. For He cried out with a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” God, as you know, cannot forsake Himself, but Christ in His humanity felt forsaken by God. What torment! But He remained obedient to God even unto death. As Paul says to the Philippians, “And being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” Philippians. 2:8.

Now, it’s common for theologians to talk about Christ’s active and passive obedience. By active obedience they mean everything that Christ did. And by passive obedience they mean everything that was done to Christ. But as we’ll see in a moment everything that Christ did throughout His whole life was without spot or blemish. Therefore He is the perfect Lamb of God.

And the cross was the place where He, as High Priest, offered up Himself as the perfect Lamb of God. Therefore He was active even in His so-called passive obedience. But notice two things at this point: 1. As our Surety He kept the Covenant of Works perfectly unto death. And, 2. As our Surety His death on the cross was to pay the penalty His people owed to God’s justice for breaking of the Covenant of Works. Therefore, as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 7:22, “…Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.”

A better covenant than what? Well, it’s speaking in particular of the Mosaic administration of the covenant. But Jesus, as you know, was born under the Law, Gal. 4:4. Therefore He is a Surety of better covenant than all the previous covenant administrations. His own life, death, and resurrection testify to this. For, on account of His perfect life, death, and resurrection, He is our perfect High Priest forever.

As the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 7:25-27, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”

So, it makes sense then, that if Christ was offering up Himself, His body should see no corruption while in the tomb. His death on the cross was for our sins, not His – He had no sin of His own. Therefore when He said, “It is finished” and had given up the ghost, His sacrificial work was done.

And remember the unfallen Adamic character of Christ’s humanity. In other words, unlike us, Jesus Christ is under the unbroken Covenant of Works. Therefore, He belongs to the administration of the Covenant BEFORE corruption and decay came upon human flesh. As Adam before the Fall was without corruption or decay, so was the 2nd Adam, Jesus Christ. His non-decaying body in the tomb is testimony to this! But even more than that, His resurrection is testimony of this! For He rose with the exact same body with which He died on the tree. He showed His disciples His wounds to prove it was the same body. And He ascended to sit at the right hand of God in heaven where He intercedes for us in that same body. And He will return again at the last day to judge angels and men in that same body. And He will continue to Mediate forever in that same body!

The Covenant is everlasting and therefore the Mediator of the Covenant is everlasting. As our Surety or Guarantor He is our guarantee of that – everlastingly!

The Mediator’s Sacrifice

We’ve noted already that He sacrificed Himself. Which is to say that He is the High Priest as well as being the sacrificial Lamb. Now, the Passover lamb was to be without blemish. E.g., Exodus 12:5, “Your lamb shall be without blemish…” Therefore, Christ as the sacrificial Lamb was without blemish, body, soul, and spirit, without corruption. But, what about His role as High Priest, i.e., as the One offering up the Sacrifice?

There were very strict statutes governing those priests who made the offering on the altar of God. Leviticus 21:21 says, “No man of the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, shall come near to offer offerings made by fire to the LORD. He has a defect; he shall not come near to offer the bread of His God.” So, not only was Christ as Lamb of God without defect. But also as High Priest He was without defect. And because Jesus was a whole Person, His whole Person was without defect, without corruption. Therefore He was the perfect High Priest offering up the perfect Sacrifice. Again, like the pre-Fall Adam He had no physical or spiritual defects, which is another way of saying that He was like us in every way apart from sin.

Jesus Christ, as the 2nd Adam is of the same order as the 1st Adam pre-Fall. But keep in mind that Christ came so that He could become for us the Surety or Guarantor of a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22). A surety or guarantor is answerable for the fulfilment of the obligation which he guarantees. Therefore Jesus obligated Himself to perfectly fulfil every jot and tittle of the Covenant of Works. And also to perfectly fulfil every penalty incurred on account of its being broken.

Christ Jesus, therefore, is the guarantee that the pre-Fall Covenant of Works will be kept perfectly.  And, that God’s justice will be satisfied by its penalty owed for our breaking it being paid in full. So, by offering up the sacrifice of Himself by the eternal Spirit Jesus Christ has fully satisfied God’s justice. Which is to say that He has kept perfectly all the original conditions or requirements of the original Covenant of Works, AND He has paid in full the penalty we owed for breaking it.

Therefore, if that weren’t enough, Jesus procured more than reconciliation. He has also procured the everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those whom the Father has given Him. Which is simply another way of saying that Jesus by His perfect, life, death, and resurrection has received on behalf of His people that which Adam would have received had he not sinned.

Perhaps you can look at it this way: The Grand Canyon represents our sin. Eden is on one side and the Kingdom of Heaven is on the other. Well, Jesus Christ has removed the canyon bit in the middle – the bit that had fallen away. He has brought together the Eden, which we lost, and the Heaven, which we have gained. By His sacrifice He has lifted us out of the watery pit of our sins and has placed us on the solid rock of His everlasting kingdom. And at this very moment God is in the process of putting all His and our enemies under His feet.

Psalm 110:1-4, “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! Your people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. The LORD has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”

We see this subduing of our High Priest’s enemies and ours continue even after His resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:25, “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” Christ’s reign began in earnest at His resurrection. For it is by His death that He conquered the last enemy which is death. And it was by His perfect sacrifice that He conquered the one, even the Devil, who kept us in bondage in fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-16, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

So, when Christ brought, as it were, the two sides of the Grand Canyon together, that old Serpent the Devil got his head caught in between, as in a vice. By sacrificing Himself Christ has crushed the Serpent’s head. To be sure, because the Serpent is in his death-throes with his head being caught and crushed, his tail is lashing around causing some little damage. But he is a ‘goner!’

Heaven and earth, God and men, are brought together in Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Let’s rejoice in the fact that in Christ our Mediator we have an inheritance that cannot perish. It shall not perish because Christ is the surety of a better covenant. That better covenant is the everlasting covenant sealed in His shed blood – everlastingly. “For by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” Romans 5:19.

And it’s on account of His perfect obedience and His shed blood that the justice of the Father has been fully satisfied. And if His justice has been fully satisfied, then we are saved by grace alone. For when something is fully satisfied nothing more can be added. And our Mediator has purchased reconciliation between God and us, and us and God.

More than this, He has also purchased for all those whom the Father has given Him, an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. The Peacemaker has bought and brought us everlasting peace with God.

We will be raised anew and be like our Mediator – perfect forever! For, He has brought together God, men, Heaven and earth.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

JESUS FOR THE LAYMAN


JESUS FOR THE LAYMAN
Introduction

We live in an age in which the name Jesus is casually used as a swear word – even in polite company! Many laymen (or should I say “laypersons”?) have no idea or don’t care who Jesus is. There has been a seismic shift, as they say, in society. No longer can it be assumed even in churches that people really know who Jesus is, let alone actually know Him personally.

I didn’t grow up with a church background. Most of my formative years were spent in a nice wee village on the southern end of Loch Lomond just north of Glasgow.[1] Church for me consisted of Christmas Day and Easter services. The focus of these of course revolved around the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. We would sing children’s hymns like Away in a Manger and the more adult What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

With his usual humour, Billy Connelly reminded us that as children we would sometimes get the words mixed-up and sing “A wean[2] in a manger…” The Lord’s Prayer[3] became “Our Father which art in heaven, Harold be Thy name…” “The cross-eyed bear” etc. Has the simple message about Jesus also become garbled?

The Bible says that we are to have a childlike faith, not a childish one. But I fear that we’ve lost Jesus somewhere along the way, that we may have left Him behind. Like the men on the road to Emmaus we used to walk and talk with Jesus and He with us. Now we just seem to focus on our own selves. Even those steeped in theology can end up walking around simply with an idea of Jesus rather than with Him personally! This was brought home to me by my eldest brother one time at Glasgow Airport as he was farewelling me on my return to Australia. Here’s roughly what happened:

My wife, two brothers, a sister, and their partners, and a nephew and I were all sitting in a circle in bucket seats having a coffee before my wife and I were to take to the skies after spending a month with them in Scotland.

I’m usually nervous about flying (and/or roller-coaster rides!), so I welcomed the conversation I had with my eldest brother as a nice distraction. The dialogue went deep. I felt as if I should have been engaging with the others too, but my big brother had my almost undivided attention. He wanted to get the point across that theology and its propositions is not God, but only one of many pointers to God. In other words, we can become guilty of confusing a signpost for the actual destination, an analogy for the reality.

I asked my brother if the Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (i.e., the famous “This is Not a Pipe”) painting illustrated what he was driving at. (My brother is, among other things, an artist.) The point being that an actual pipe and a painting of a pipe are two different things. We discussed how God reveals Himself by way of analogy, i.e., through the things He has made and also what He has said in written revelation, the Bible.

We sipped on our coffees as airport announcements interrupted our verbal interaction. As the precious minutes ticked away, lest I missed his point, he put his hand on my arm and referred to the Bible passage where Jesus said to Martha after her brother Lazarus had died, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” My brother said that Martha was thinking in terms of theology, i.e., propositional truth. She knew about the resurrection that will take place at the last day. This is what the Bible teaches.

However, Martha was missing the point, a major point. And, so that I would not miss it too, my big brother began yanking on my arm sharply while saying the words Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection…” Jesus was saying that He is not a theological proposition, a painting of Himself, a signpost, a mere analogy. He was saying, I AM the resurrection!”

Wow! I felt as if I really met Jesus at Glasgow Airport.

It is my prayer that you will meet Jesus in the following and not just an idea of Him, but really meet Him!

Person of Picture?

What comes to mind whenever you think of Jesus? Some longhaired bearded guy all robes and sandals? Would it surprise you to learn that nowhere does the Bible tell us what Jesus looked like? Yet most movies and books picture Him as if He were a blue-eyed hippy left over from the 60s cultural revolution! The Bible says of Him, “He has no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”[4] But Jesus is usually depicted as a handsome man in the movies.

One is left wondering where the contemporary picture of Jesus comes from, as most people see Him depicted in pictures. My own theory is that it is the imprint on The Shroud of Turin[5] that is the basis for the contemporary picture of Jesus that springs to mind. (Dear reader please feel free to disagree with me on this, but for the record, I’m not convinced of the shroud’s authenticity.[6]) I think the closest the Bible comes to describing how Jesus looked is found in the following: “His eyes will be darker than wine, His teeth whiter than milk.”[7]

I don’t know about you, but I suppose I would like Jesus to be tall, dark and handsome with movie-star looks. Why? Because isn’t that the way a hero, the star of the Bible, is supposed to look? Well, maybe not. The Bible is full of paradoxes, “the last shall be first”, “the meek shall inherit the earth”, “you must lose your life to find it” etc. Jesus is the Bible’s biggest paradox!

Let me repeat that verse: “He has no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” I put it to you that if we are going to meet with and have an encounter with Jesus we shall need to make sure that we can recognise Him, lest we despise and reject Him out of hand as some imposter! Therefore, it probably is best if you do not have any picture of Jesus in mind.[8] Indeed, that would be why there is scant (if any) description in the Bible of how Jesus looks. I hope to say more on this a little later.

In the Braveheart movie, the Scottish army failed to recognize William Wallace when he showed up to lead them into battle. They were expecting a giant of a man, not someone of the relatively short stature of Mel Gibson! However, they couldn’t fail to recognize him in his rousing pre-battle speech. He spoke to men’s hearts, things, deep things, things about freedom. Here’s a wee sample:

“Sons of Scotland! I am William Wallace.”
Soldier: William Wallace is seven feet tall!
“Yes, I’ve heard. Kills men by the hundred! And if he were here, he’d consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse! I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny. You’ve come to fight as free men. And free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?
Soldier 2: “Fight? Against that? No! We will run. And we will live.”
“Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live. At least a while.And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies, that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”

Wallace (in the movie) was not what the Scottish troops had pictured in their minds, i.e., some spectacular giant of a man. However, though “a picture is worth a thousand words” the picture is not the reality. (Google the “This is not a Pipe” painting.) It ever remains a picture. At best it is a flawed depiction of reality. And so it is with Jesus. Like the Scottish troops’ picture of William Wallace before they had encountered him, so our picture of Jesus may be a thousand miles away from the reality. But the focus is not upon what He looks like, but rather on the fact that when He speaks to you, He will speak directly to your heart, of things, deep things, things of freedom.

Do not settle for a mere picture of Jesus. Insist on the reality!

The Word of God

I remember someone saying to me that they had tried to read the Bible but gave up because they didn’t like blood and gore! Like the Braveheart movie the Bible contains lots of graphic scenes. Yes, there is blood, gore and swords buried up to the hilt in human flesh! To be sure there are lots of tender moments too in both. However, unlike the Braveheart movie, instead of pictures, the Bible uses words to tell its story. The words of the Bible are able to penetrate us even to our innermost being.For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.

I was lamenting the fact that nowadays movies feel the need to show the blood and gore bits even on slow-motion without leaving much to the imagination. I think things started going downhill after the 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie which was remade in 2003. I’ve never actually seen either of these! However, the point I wish to make is an important one for what we’re looking at. Like the old Alfred Hitchcock movies, apparently the 1974 Texas Chainsaw massacre movie leaves most of the gore to the imagination. In other words, you get the picture! In some ways this can be more confronting and indeed more frightening than seeing fake blood. It’s the difference between seeing a mere picture of something, even something gory, and that of understanding and experiencing the reality! You don’t just see it, you feel it! The point being therefore, when you read the Bible about Jesus don’t forget that He uses His Word as a mind-probe, “it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Here Jesus is seen with the mind’s-eye not with the physical eye. Your spirit feels it, not your body.

The Bible is sometimes referred to as The Sword of the Spirit. It is what Jesus used when He was being tempted in the wilderness by that evil spirit-being, i.e., Satan, a.k.a. the tempter. For example, “The tempter came to Him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Jesus just quoted relevant verses of Scripture to Satan and eventually Satan left Him to fight another day. But the point (pun intended!) is that the Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword (including the likes of Wallace’s claymore!) Jesus deftly wields the Sword of the Spirit, i.e., the Word of God to fight spiritual battles against spiritual forces.

The Bible itself claims to be written by God using men. And, call it circular reasoning if you wish, but Jesus believed that the Bible we have today was written by God. From Moses to the Apostle John all the Bible authors were moved by the Spirit of God, each using his own ordinary way of writing, to write down what God wanted them to write down, every jot and tittle of it. There are sixty-six Books of the Bible written over a period of some fourteen hundred years by over forty authors. The Bible was completed not too many years after Jesus died and was resurrected.

It is the Bible itself that must convince you that it is the written Word of God. Or better, it is the Spirit of Christ working with the Word of God that must convince you that it is God’s Word. This is what we mean by Jesus deftly wielding the Sword of the Spirit. He uses it to stab certain people in the heart with His Word. But, and as we have already mentioned that the Bible is full of paradoxes, rather than killing you, getting stabbed in the heart by the Sword of the Spirit actually brings you back to life! It means that you have become alive spiritually, which in turn means that, unlike before, you are now ready to listen to God as He speaks (to you) in His Word!

Speaking of chainsaws, there was a funny story about a man who took his chainsaw back to the hardware store complaining that it wouldn’t cut the amount of wood in the time the advertisement said it would. The store-man pulled the cord and started up the chainsaw. The complaining customer with a startled look on his face yelled, “What’s that noise?” The Bible is like that for some people. It’s never been fire-up! It collects dust. The Book is used as a good luck charm and nothing more. However, the Word of God has to be activated by the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit before you hear it. Otherwise it will remain as silent as that chainsaw in the hands of that complaining customer. A word to the wise, always remember that: “The word of God is alive and active.”

In the Bible Jesus is known as the Word. See if you can hear this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made … The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:1 & 14a.

The Word of God says that Jesus is the Word of God who in the beginning was with God and was God. The Bible speaks of Jesus from cover to cover. As Jesus said of the Scriptures to some men, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me.” John 5:39.

Are you ready and willing to hear what the Scriptures have to say about Jesus?

Meeting Jesus

Before we go about meeting Jesus let me paint in a bit more background scenery. As I mentioned above, growing up and attending school in the Vale of Leven on the West Coast of Scotland during the 1960s meant that I was taken to church with the other pupils at Christmas and Easter. For perhaps obvious reasons, as a child ordinarily I preferred the Christmas services over the Easter ones. The former being about the birth of Jesus and the latter about His death and subsequent resurrection. I loved the baby Jesus – mangers, wise men and shepherds. And, hey, it was Christmas and that meant Christmas presents! Easter was all about rolling painted boiled eggs down hills to me. The man on the cross remained a mystery. What was he doing on that cross? Taking away sins or something. I don’t think sins or transgressions or whatever they were ever was explained to us. Then Jesus came alive again. And went to heaven. Whoopee! Let’s have some chocolate Easter eggs instead of boiled ones (with bits of broken eggshell).

Though His birth and death are no less worthy of study, it’s at the cross that we must meet Jesus if we are to understand who and what it is He has done.

Now, dear reader I apologize to you and hope you can forgive me, but I’ve already primed you up for a discussion about Jesus that some have called “Butcher Shop Theology”, you know, where Christians talk about being saved by the blood of Jesus and all that. By the disparaging term “Butcher Shop Theology” they mean that Christians enter into too much blood and gore by talking about Christ’s cross. But Christ without the cross is like an ocean without water. Crossless Christianity is meaningless. No cross and the Bible is rendered meaningless.

A man asked me, a marriage celebrant, to marry him and his partner. I said, “but you’re an Atheist! Why would you want a Christian preacher for a celebrant?” After some discussion I put this to him, “Let me see, you like Christianity without Christ?” “Yes!” he responded. Well, just as a crossless Christ is meaningless, so is Christianity without Christ, the real Christ!

The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” Hebrews 13:8. We don’t get to change Him or to mould Him into the way we would like Him to be. We don’t get to meet with a caricature of Jesus, a Jesus who wouldn’t hurt a fly, a Jesus who never shed His blood on a cross. We don’t change Jesus. Jesus changes us!

But first you have to meet Him, encounter Him by drawing near to Him. For Scripture says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you” James 4:8. But keep the following in mind, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day” John 6:44. Paradox? We are to draw near to God but we won’t unless the Father draws us? Wait a minute, I hear you say. Is it God or is it Jesus I’m supposed to be drawing near to? Let me put it to you, to draw near to God is to draw near to Jesus, because God and Jesus are the same! Scriptures says, For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” 1 Timothy 2:5a. And Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6.

Yes, that’s a lot to be getting on with! But the bottom line is that to meet with Jesus is to meet with God. And, regardless of the blood and gore, the best place to meet with Jesus is at His cross.

Are you ready for some more Bible paradoxes? The Father poured out His anger on His Son as He hung nailed to wooden cross! Why was God the Father angry with God the Son? He wasn’t! Don’t miss it. God was not angry with Jesus Christ His only begotten Son. God was angry with us. He was angry with you and He was angry with me! What did I do, what did you do, what did we do to make God angry with us that He needed to pour out His wrath upon His Son to take away our sins? There’s that mysterious word again, “sins.”

We’ve already noted that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” He was sinless yesterday, He was sinless today, and He is sinless forever. It was our sins, our iniquities that God was dealing with when Christ was hanging on the cross.

I know the following is lengthy, but even though it was written five hundred years before the event of the cross, it is worth reading. I’ve underlined the bits that speak of Jesus dying for our sins and I will give a little commentary:

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.” 

Why did Jesus go all the way to the cross to receive the wrath of God?

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

Why did Jesus need to go to the cross in the first place?

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away. Yet who of His generation protested? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.”

And then speaking of the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life an offering for sin, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand. After He has suffered, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge My righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:1-12.

All the bloody animal sacrifices in the Old Testament Scriptures pointed to Him of whom John the Baptist said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7. O, and what is sin? “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” 1 John 3:4. Thus sin is the transgressing or breaking of God’s Ten Commandments either in thought or in word or in deed.

Jesus had no sin of His own, but He took upon Himself the sins of all who believe in Him so that the Father’s justice could be paid and His righteous anger toward sin could be assuaged. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ Romans 8:1. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ your sins have been covered by His shed blood. God does not look at you as a sinner. He looks at Jesus as your Saviour. In other words, Jesus represents you before God. You have been declared in God’s court of law “righteous” because of what Jesus did. It’s a legal transaction: Your sins were given to Jesus on the cross and His righteousness was given to you. You are now sinless. Call it “Butcher Shop Theology” if you want! But it is the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ about Jesus Christ.

If you have met with Christ at His cross and have witnessed Him hanging there, then here’s the view from His side of things as He hung on that tree, written a thousand years before He died. Read it slowly, taking it in, feeling His pain on that cross:

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see Me mock Me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue Him. Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him.” Yet you brought Me out of the womb; you made Me trust in You, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on You; from My mother’s womb You have been My God. Do not be far from Me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround Me, strong bulls of Bashan encircle Me. Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against Me. I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within Me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue sticks to the roof of My mouth; you lay Me in the dust of death. Dogs surround Me, a pack of villains encircles Me; they pierce My hands and My feet. All My bones are on display, people stare and gloat over Me. They divide My clothes among them and cast lots for My garment. But you, Lord, do not be far from Me. You are My strength; come quickly to help Me. Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue Me from the mouth of the lions; save Me from the horns of the wild oxen.” Psalm 22:6-21.

When Jesus was born, a man called Simeon spoke to Jesus’ mother, Mary. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35.

Has the Sword of the Spirit pierced your heart, especially as you met with Jesus at His cross?


[1] One time when I was back in Scotland a friend gave me a copy of Jamie Stuart’s A Glasgow Bible which is written in the Glasgow vernacular (i.e., Glaswegian).
[2] A wean like a bairn is a child.
[3] “Our Faither in heiven, hallowt be thy name..,” – see The New Testament in Scots translated by William Laughton Lorimer.
[4] Isaiah 53:2b. (NIV)
[5] I know Wikipedia is not the best place to source footnote data, but it will do in this instance:
The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud (Italian: Sindone di Torino, Sacra Sindone  or Santa Sindone) is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who is alleged to be Jesus of Nazareth. The cloth itself is believed by some to be the burial shroud he was wrapped in when he was buried after crucifixion
[6] The Shroud of Turin? My study of the Scriptures showed me that Jesus was not wrapped in a burial shroud, but was wrapped in strips of linen with a face cloth over His face. (See Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53.) Also, “Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” with John 19:40, “Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” John 20:6-7.
[7] Genesis 49:12.
[8] My own personal reasoning in brief is as follows: I would suggest that pictures of Jesus and God (including the ones you and I may have in our minds) are in breach of the 2nd Commandment: ““You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6. Jesus is God the Son and we must not separate His humanity from His divinity. Sure, I’ve seen gazillions of pictures supposedly depicting Jesus. But that, to my mind, still does not make it right.