Jesus Christ high overall
Abraham Kuyper of Holland (1837-1920) said:
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Jesus Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry ‘Mine’.
What a statement! This certainly puts the Name and Person of Jesus Christ in the list of the world’s greatest as number one. Against present day materialism, pluralism and paganism, He stands out to be either the biggest liar and deceiver, or the one person in the whole universe to be true, honest, authentic, perfect and, therefore, trustworthy. How can we come to such startling conclusions? We need, without prejudice or preconceived ideas, to be confronted with who He really is; what He has done that is so earth shattering; and what relevance He has for us.
Who He is
The existence of one creator God is always to the fore in every thinking generation, and especially nowadays. We have the aggressive atheists, humanists and many agnostics. Jesus Christ as a person of history and fact should not be in doubt. Sites in Palestine, documentary evidence, especially the New Testament gospels, and clearly BC and AD mean He is history! Views and opinions vary on who He was and what He did, from ordinary man to great teacher, conceited cheat to a failure. But in any court of law, neither hearsay nor circumstantial evidence is acceptable. What are the eye witnesses’ views?
Truly He was teacher par excellence. Crowds gathered eagerly to hear Him (Mark 12:37). Pontius Pilate said, ‘I find no fault in Him’ (John 18:38). Consensus often was ‘no man ever spoke like this man’ (John 7:46) and with such authority (Matt. 7:29). His deeds and works were unselfish, beneficial to the recipients, miraculous and supernatural. His character was impeccable so no-one could point the finger. In every way He was a true man amongst men. Dr Donald Soper, an eminent Methodist and Labour party member of the twentieth-century considered Jesus Christ to be the first and greatest socialist that ever lived. More pointedly, C.S. Lewis, Professor at Oxford in the twentieth-century, said of Jesus, ‘He is either a liar or deceiver of the highest order or everything He claimed and all that is written of Him is true’. So from the declaration of the Roman centurion at the crucifixion we have, ‘Truly this was the Son of God’ (Mark 15:39), to Jesus’ own words regarding His identity, ‘He that has seen me, has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).
Other statements conclude that as the man Jesus and the Christ we have one exceptional unique person. Fourth and fifth century creeds state that He has two natures – human and divine, ‘without separation, without distinction’. He is the God-Man. The revealed Word of God, who made the worlds (John 1:3). Superior to the angels, Jesus is ‘the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person’ having been appointed ‘heir of all things’ by God (Heb. 1:2-3).
Who then is Jesus Christ? He is the one and only revelation of God and the creator of all things. ‘He is the image of the invisible God’ (Col. 1:15) and ‘in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form’ (Col. 2:9).
What He did
What work did He do? The records tell of His wonderful acts of kindness, miracles, parabolic teaching, and the memorable Sermon on the Mount. In the gospel of John miracles recorded are ‘signs’ – signs of what? Jesus gives us the most amazing self-illustration of His work because ‘His hour [had] come’ (John 13:1). He washes the disciples’ feet, kneeling at each one in turn without saying anything, except for the exchanges between Him and reluctant Peter. His work, He keeps telling us, is ‘to seek and save that which is lost’ (Matt. 18:11). This rescue mission is to be accomplished by humiliation of a major order – rejection and killing (Mark 8:31). More specifically, He foretells of cruel treatment, scourging, crucifixion, and resurrection (Mark 10:33-34). Eventually Jesus is arrested, cross-examined and condemned to flogging, mockery and death by the Roman authorities and the will of the people. Three days later He rose from the tomb, making thirteen different appearances to more than 500 eyewitnesses during a forty day period until He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9-11).
What is this work of death and resurrection about? Was it all a tragedy? Does it have any significance? He is God in human form we have said. He came for a ‘set hour’. As the all-knowing and wise creator God, He ties everything into all the centuries and generations of human existence. No accidents, all purposeful in the scheme of things. He foretold His earthly finale. The Passover feast remembers the hJewish Exodus from Egypt in the seventeenth-century BC. The lamb was killed with the blood painted on the outside doorposts for external recognition. The family inside was saved from the slaying of the firstborn. And it was during Passover Jesus Christ the God-Man was crucified. Three years earlier, John the Baptist publicly pointed to Jesus and said, ‘Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). The one lamb covers all the families of the world, and dies in the place of firstborn children.
We are aware today of the use of substitutes. For the injured, or one not performing very well, hopefully the game will be won by substitution. As the God-Man, Jesus Christ had done nothing wrong. He was without sin and blemish, none inherited by nature or contaminated by living in an evil world. His birth was by heavenly intervention; His thirty-three years lived by the fullness of the Holy Spirit. His CV was as no other human being – perfection. Therefore, He gives His life, although the authorities handled the affair, to be crucified. The decision over His death was not Pilate’s (John 19:11). As the Perfect Man He lays down His life willingly, the substitute lamb, ‘the ransom paid for many’ (Mark 10:45). The rescue plan is that by one sacrifice, once forever, the perfect God-Man carries the sin of the world on Himself, condemned, punished, dead and buried. The earth-shattering truth is that the tomb is empty, the grave is defeated, hell diverted and forgiveness is available – pardon for whoever believes!
What’s this got to do with me?
Now this is where you and I come in. We try to unravel, understand, help, guide and change human behaviour patterns, but the truth of the matter is that we are all guilty from birth. God calls this condition ‘sin’ because it is contrary to Him as the great creator. We desperately need real help, transforming changing power to live differently. This is now available through Jesus Christ alone, our second Adam, the Head of a new humanity and our Captain, Saviour and Lord. Paul, transformed from being a hater of Christ, when writing in Romans logically argues ‘death reigns from Adam but the gift by grace of the one man Jesus Christ abounded to many’ (Rom. 5:15). Also ‘for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive’ (1 Cor. 15:22).
It is strange that for physical diseases, e.g. cancer, we engage in every means of research and cost in order to defeat and bring a cure. People give themselves to every hope. Yet for this cure, of our character and nature, we hesitate and assume it is automatic, or we say ‘I’ll grow out of my bad traits and when I get older and face dying I will think about meeting my Maker’. This is foolhardy. What Jesus Christ came to do is life changing for now. It is character cleansing; it is transforming. He takes anyone with his past record and present pattern, blots out and recreates by His Spirit. Because of who He is and what He did historically, He receives the acceptance and sanction of heaven and eternity. Why do we reject such an offer? It is not sensible. It is irresponsible. Our present position and future happiness is at stake. Those past and present who have repented, trusted and received join in a triumphant song of thanksgiving and praise to Jesus Christ, the one and only Saviour and Lord. He is appointed as the one mediator between men and God (1 Tim. 2:5). There is no other way, nor means, nor hope for you and me for now and the future. The antidote is here and available. Have you taken your place with countless thousands, millions who are enjoying the benefits of sins forgiven, life anew and everlasting? Turn from believing anything, or nothing, to the real person and work of Jesus Christ, the righteous One.
Neville Rees is a member of Libanus Church, Morriston, Swansea.