Getting to Know God Meditations: 9. God of Purpose: Jesus
Jn 1:1-3, 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. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Acts 2:22-24 Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead
New Seekers or Old Believers? Because Jesus Christ is such a significant and crucial figure in human history – and in the life of Israel – and because it is being said that the present younger generation is the first biblicaly illiterate generation, it would be wise to identify who we are talking about. But how to do that for seeker and those of you who are believers of long-standing? Well may I simply say what I am going to do here is lay out summary notes of what the Bible teaches about Jesus.
For the new seeker this simply says the Bible says a great deal about him; he is no obscure figure in misty history. There are also limited references to him as an historical figure in other writings outside the Bible but the Bible is full of details about him and therefore acts as our primary source. For long-term believers, may these notes simply act as reminders and maybe a challenge to update and enlarge your knowledge. For those who wish to pursue these things in much greater detail you will find much detail in an earlier series of 62 studies I wrote entitled ‘Focus on Christ’.
Big Pictures: The above two sets of starter verses show us something of the diversity of the descriptions that are found in the New Testament about Jesus. The first three Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – were written within a relatively few years after Jesus’ time on the earth. John was written a number of decades later after he had had time to mull over all the things he had seen and heard in those three most incredible years of his life and was writing, probably from Ephesus where he was still a church elder and probably one of the only remaining original twelve apostles who traveled with Jesus.
John writes for a Greek-thinking dominated world and so he uses this big philosophical language that would be understood by them. Jesus, he says, is the Word, (Gk. Logos meaning focus of all life, the meaning behind everything). Meanwhile the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost, days after Jesus has ascended, declares under the anointing of the Holy Spirit who fell on the believers that day, that Jesus was a man but enabled to do the miraculous by God, for which he was opposed by the authorities, put to death on a cross but rose from the dead. A short, sharp, non-philosophical testimony. This record was written only a relatively few years after the event and the believers struggled with the concept that this man was God. It took John, and also Paul as he listened more, to understand that this was God incarnate, God with us, the ‘Emmanuel’ of Isaiah prophecies.
The Prophesied One: We said in a previous study that there are over 300 prophecies about a coming Messiah, descriptions noted by the Jewish scholars through the centuries, that fitted Jesus perfectly and, it should be said, never seen in any other figure. Thus the Jews expected One to come who would be:
A prophet like Moses (Deut 18:18), a ruling conqueror (Balaam’s prophecy) (Num 24:17-19), a shepherd (Ezek 34:23), a prince (Ezek 37:25), a ruler from Judah (Gen 49:10), the Seed of David with an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam 7:12-), one bringing the presence of God with him (Isa 7:14), a mighty ruler (Isa 9:6-7), a Son of man coming with the clouds to rule (Dan 7:13,14), God’s servant (Isa 42:1-/49:1-/50:4-/52:13-).
Summarizing this we might say that in the OT the Jews saw the coming One as a compilation of: Son of David, a great ruler, a prophetic messiah, a priestly messiah, a son of man (human in form), and a suffering servant.
Past, Present and Future descriptions: to fill out this summary overview we might summarize his being and activity as shown in the Bible as follows:
- Past History: he came from heaven, lived on earth, taught widely, healed the sick & raised the dead, performed a variety of miracles, cast out demons, was arrested, falsely tried & crucified, took our sins on the Cross, rose from the dead and taught his followers for a number of weeks and then ascended into heaven.
- Present Experience:he draws people to God, heals & delivers, moves in affairs of world to bring about God’s purposes, prepares the church for his second coming.
- Future Activity: he will return to earth, being seen by every person, will take his followers to be with him, will vanquish the enemy (all evil), will judge every person.
Greater Content: For those who would like a little more detail here, here are some of those things slightly expanded:
- Jesus left his glorious position in heaven to come to earth (Jn 17:5 / Jn 6:38). Jesus didn’t just come into being when he was born on earth; he had existed throughout eternity with the Father in heaven.
- He put aside the glory he had previously in heaven and lived in human frailty (Phil 2:7). In heaven he had been the glorious Son of God in full splendour. He put aside all that to come down to earth and wear a human body.
- He was tempted in EVERY way we are, but he DIDN’T give way to sin (Heb 4:15). Jesus lived an ordinary human life with the same sort of human body, had human emotions, and lived among the same sort of people, and therefore faced the same temptations we face in our lives; he understands us! Yet he didn’t succumb to any temptation and didn’t sin.
- He came in perfect obedience to his Father in heaven (Heb 10:7 / Jn 5:19). Despite the pressures of living in a human body, at all times he sought the wishes of the Father in heaven and did all he was told to do, even though that was sometimes incredibly difficult. His rule was “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:39).
- He allowed the Holy Spirit to minister through him to heal the sick, deliver the demonized, raise the dead, and generally counter the works of Satan on earth. (Lk 4:18,19 / Mt 11:4,5). His life was one of selfless giving, despite frequent tiredness and constant demands of people on him, he poured out God’s love in power.
- He was plotted against and falsely tried. (Acts 4:27 / Isa 53:3,8 / Acts 2:23) Because of his total goodness, the self-centred, godless and unrighteous attitudes of those who should have known better, made them vulnerable to the promptings of the enemy and they rose up against him.
- He was beaten, tortured and crucified by Satan’s agents and was railed against by the demons hordes but never responded wrongly (Mt 27:26-30 / Psa 22:12,16 – prophetic insight into the mind of the crucified One) Every violent expression of sin was turned upon him and he received it all in his body. Every violent expression in the spiritual realms was turned upon him and he received it in his spirit.
- He took our sin upon himself on the Cross. (2 Cor 5:21 / 1 Pet 2:24 / Isa 53:12) As he hung on the Cross, it was as if all your individual sins, deserving punishment, were laid on Jesus, as if to say, “Here are the reasons you are hanging here taking this punishment.” In that sense it was, in God’s eyes in eternity, as if they were transferred from you to him.
- He rose from the dead as proof of who he was (Acts 2:24 / Acts 17:31). The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate proof that he was who he said he was.
- He ascended into heaven to rule at his Father’s right hand. (1 Pet 3:22 / 1 Cor 15:25 / Eph 1:20-22 / Psa 110:1) See also the following for Jesus seated with the Father: Mk 16:19, Acts 2:33, 5:31, 7:55, Rom 8:34, Phil 2:9, Col 3:1, Heb 1:3, 8:1, 12:2. See also the following for Jesus ruling: Eph 1:22, Heb 2:8
- He is now IN THE PROCESS of putting everything in subjection under his feet (1 Cor 15: 24,25 / Eph 1:19-22 / Eph 2:6,7). As he reigns at the Father’s right hand, Jesus works out the Father’s will on earth, continuing to do the things he started doing, but now through his church. This means Jesus reigns or rules or brings the Father’s will through the church, which is a gradual process.
- That process will be completed when he comes as conquering king (Rev 19:11-17 / 1 Thess 4:16,17 / Mt 24:27,30,31, 1 Cor 15:24-26) The end is quite clear: Jesus will return in glory and all will see him coming. At that point, we who are on earth will be caught up to him. He will then deal with his enemies once and for all.
And So? Whether you believe this or not, this is the clear and specific teaching about Jesus Christ as seen in the Bible. We now need to move on and see how all of this is designed to impact the people we can become, i.e. all about our behaviour.