Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

How to be Truly Good

The be good, do what Jesus taught rules: love your neighbor, treat others as you want to be treated, don’t judge unless you know that you too will be judged. These are good, generally agreeable moral and social principles. But they were not the only things he taught.

Let Jesus’ claims sink in: he claimed to have power to raise the dead (John 5:21), authority to judge all humanity (v. 22), power to grant people eternal life (v. 24), and the same self-sustaining life that the Father has (v. 26). The leaders were not misunderstanding him. Jesus was, in fact, claiming equality with God (v. 18)–equality that, he said, the Father had given him. And he claimed that he deserved the same honor that was due to God the Father (v. 23). These claims are breathtaking and unnerving!

Jon Bloom, Daily Strength, September 12th

So love your neighbor, treat others well, don’t be judgmental but when you fail in those things (and you surely will), return to the man who not only taught you them to you but perfectly did them, and find the God who will save you from the guilt of your failure. He will heal your blindness and lead you to walk in greater faithfulness. He’ll relieve you of the burden of finding your goodness in the law by making his goodness yours too. Then you can take up your cross, haltingly follow him with a desire not to be seen as good, but to be with and like someone who loves you and truly is good.

No Rush

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.

The Gospel According to John 20:6-7 (ESV)

The face cloth was not with the other grave clothes but was folded up and laid aside. What an odd detail to include. None of the other gospels include it. Why might John?

John was the last gospel written and there had been growing opposition to the emerging Christian sect. There are rabbinic writings from the first century claiming that Jesus didn’t rise from death but that his disciples took and hid his body. Since then, other theories about the missing corpse have included things like dogs raiding the tomb, dragging the body off and eating it.

The head cloth contradicts those sorts of explanations. If the disciples stole the body at night with Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, why take time to fold the face cloth? Moreover, why strip the body at all? Grab Jesus and run! And can you picture a pack of ravenous feral dogs managing to take the body and leave the grave clothes, let alone fold the face cloth?

No, this glimpse inside the tomb gives us a picture of the resurrection of Jesus that was not panicked or chaotic but serene. On the first day of the week, Jesus sat up, removed the cloth from his face, folded it, and laid it aside. Perhaps angels brought him a change of clothes since he was crucified naked and his clothing divided as he died. He removed the grave clothes, donned his new robe and stepped out of the tomb as death’s conqueror. No rush. No panic. No fear. Just the dignity of a triumphant king coming to deliver to his people the news of his unimaginable victory. Victory over the grave, over death, over sin, over hell itself.

Son of God

And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” (Mark 3:11)

In the Bible, the title “son” or “sons of God” can refer to angels (Job 1:6), kings (2 Sam. 7:14), or people (Acts 17:28) but what did the gospel writers mean by it when it applied to Jesus?

When demons met Jesus, they announced he was the Son of God and then they did whatever he told them to do. Demons wrestle with angels (Dan. 10:13), they deceive kings (1 Kings 22:22-23), and they beat up people (Acts 19:16), but they obey God (Job 1:6-12, 2:1-5). In the gospels, they did the same thing with Jesus (Matt. 8:31-32) and those who speak in his name (Luke 10:17).

So demons can resist or defeat other “sons of God” but when it comes to the Son of God, their reaction is the same as it is to God. The Son of God is greater than kings and angels.

You Don’t Have to Pick

Which one do you like better? The cranky God of the Old Testament or mild mannered Jesus of the New Testament? You actually don’t get that choice.

Back in 2008 I attended the Wheaton Theology Conference on Rediscovering the Trinity: Classic Doctrine and Contemporary Ministry. One of the speakers was Edith Humphrey. I just stumbled across my notes from her talk and found this interesting observation.

We often assume that the Old Testament is the era of the Father, the New Testament is the era of the Son, and the church age is the era of the Spirit. Humphrey suggested an alternative. The Old Testament is the era of the Son incognito and the New Testament is the era of the Son revealing the Father by the Spirit. She referred specifically to John 1:18 to support this version.

As I’m preaching through Genesis, I find this to actually be a better description of what is happening. Of course the Father is present and active in the Old Testament but what we’re seeing more of is Jesus there. Pictured and promised but there he is.

To add to the strength of this, consider this from an older post of mine:

So my act of rebellion was to see “the LORD” and read it as “Yahweh” every time. After a bit I got worried that I was just being proud and clever; never a good thing. But then I thought about how the New Testament handles this…

And that’s when it came together. What I was actually doing was what the church had been doing. Seeing “Yahweh” and thinking/saying “Lord” for whatever reason; theological persnickety-ness or honoring God. But in the New Testament “Lord” is applied to Jesus. So when I read in the New Testament “Jesus is Lord” and hear in my head that habit from reading “Lord” in my Old Testament as “Yahweh” I’m actually doing the right thing! Jesus is Yahweh!

What I’m getting at is we read “LORD” and think “God the Father” but in reality we should be thinking “Jesus” since the New Testament applies “Lord” to Jesus. That would mean that the God we see in the Old Testament, the one everyone says is cranky and mean, is actually Jesus. On when he came did he reveal God the Father.

Dual Problems Overcome

The death and resurrection of Jesus are the center of Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel. It is by means of Christ’s death and resurrection that the two evils introduced into the world at the time of the Fall are overcome. Christ’s death on the cross is God’s solution to the problem of sin, and Christ’s resurrection from the grave is God’s solution to the problem of death. – Keith Mathison

Natural Causes

Why did Jesus die? He was beaten brutally, had a crown of thorns put on his head and beaten with reeds, he carried a heavy cross in this weakened state and was finally nailed hand and foot to it where he hung for hours. When they came to break his legs so his death would come quickly they found him already dead and when a soldier stuck him with a spear, blood and water flowed out of the wound. Apparently he’d suffocated. But Jesus didn’t die of natural causes like the criminals he was been crucified with did.

So if it wasn’t these brutal physical abuses that killed Jesus, what did? Jesus said,

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” – John 10:17-18 (emphasis mine)

Jesus laid down his life, no one took if from him. It looked like he was lead away as if he were not in control of his final hours, but he was. He laid down his life and he did that because the Father gave him authority to do so.

Also take a look at Psalm 69. It is pretty clearly a Psalm about Jesus. The New Testament applies verse 9 to Jesus in John 2:17 and Romans 15:3. Jesus applies verse 4 to himself in John 15:25. There are a few other passages that are cited from the Psalm that don’t directly apply to Jesus himself but indirectly to his enemies. Psalm 69 pretty strongly applies to Jesus. And in it, the Psalmist says:

For they persecute him whom you have struck down,
and they recount the pain of those you have wounded. – Psalm 69:26 (again, empahsis mine)

If we read Psalm 69 the way the New Testament does, you can’t help be notice that God struck down Jesus. As horrible as the physical punishments were, they weren’t what killed Jesus. He didn’t die of natural causes from his wounds. God placed the sins of all on him, turned his face from him and Jesus died. It is as if at the right time the Father said, “die for those sins now Son” and the Son said, “Yes Father” and he died. Jesus was never out of control. He entered Jerusalem at the right time knowing what was coming. He selected Judas knowing what he would do. He offered no defense against the false accusations of the Jewish leaders and wouldn’t excuse himself to Pilot. God gave Jesus authority and charge to lay down his life and take it up again. They and they alone were in charge of his death and resurrection. And they didn’t do it to be cruel but to save.

For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that dishonor has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother’s sons. – Psalm 69:7-8

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:4-5

Posse Peccare

The best theologians, past and present, have been divided on the question of whether Jesus could have sinned. I believe that since Jesus was fully human, it was possible for him to sin. Obviously, the divine nature cannot sin. But if Christ’s divine nature prevented him from sinning, in what sense did he obey the law of God as the second Adam? At his birth, Jesus’ human nature was exactly the same as Adam’s before the fall, with respect to his moral capabilities. Jesus had what Augustine called the posse peccare and the posse non peccare, that is, the ability to sin and the ability not to sin. Adam sinned; Jesus did not. Satan did everything in his power to corrupt Jesus and tempt him to sin. That would have been an exercise in futility had he been trying to tempt a divine person to sin. Satan was not trying to get God to sin. He was trying to get the human nature of Christ to sin, so that he would not be qualified to be the Savior.

At the same time, Christ was uniquely sanctified and ministered to by the Holy Spirit. In order to sin, a person must have a desire for sin. But Jesus’ human nature throughout his life was marked by a zeal for righteousness. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 4:34), he said. As long as Jesus had no desire to sin, he would not sin. I may be wrong, but I think it is wrong to believe that Christ’s divine nature made it impossible for his human nature to sin. If that were the case, the temptation, the tests, and his assuming of the responsibility of the first Adam would have all been charades. This position protects the integrity of the authenticity of the human nature because it was the human nature that carried out the mission of the second Adam on our behalf. It was the human nature uniquely anointed beyond measure by the Holy Spirit.

(Excerpt from R.C. Sproul’s, Truths We Confess: A Layman’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith (Volume 1) via Ligonier Blog)

I think it is wrong to believe that Christ’s divine nature made it impossible for his human nature to sin. —R.C. SproulSo what? Does this even matter? Yes, it matters a lot and I agree with RC here. Jesus didn’t beam in to the earth. He didn’t suddenly appear in the clouds. He wasn’t sheltered in a temple from the time of his appearing. Jesus was born of a woman. He had parents who changed his diapers and nursed him and told him that the fire would burn him if he touched it. He ate, slept, stubbed his toe and got splinters. Jesus was a human being. Fully human. 100% human without sin. He was born and he died just like we are born and we die. But unlike us, Jesus was the eternally existing Son of God. In Colossians Paul tells us that he is the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of God.

It seems to me that Jesus’ human nature, being truly human, could be tempted to sin. Yet, since he lacked inherited guilt, he remained free to chose not to sin. Since his human and divine natures are perfectly united in him, his divine nature would have constrained his humanity to not sin in this way: Jesus’ human nature would be doing what humanity should do; depend upon God for strength in the face of temptation. Could he have sinned? Not if he was doing what a perfect human would do by trusting in God. Was he truly tempted to sin? Yes, his human nature, being what it is was was weak in relation to temptation but was strong in the power of the Lord.

This stuff matters because Jesus is a sympathetic God and savior. He isn’t aloof from our struggles and difficulties.