Dying is a topic most us would rather avoid, but Jesus didn’t shy away from the subject. In fact, he focused on it – maybe because He came to die for us.
I guess I would probably be a bit fixated on the subject if I knew that was the fate that awaited me…. Wait a minute…. that is the fate that awaits me!
Well, maybe it was different for Jesus because it wasn’t just the fate that awaited him; it was among the primary purposes for which he became a man. Though he existed in the form of God, He didn’t hold on to His superior position. He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant being born a man. “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8) Simply put – Jesus came to die – for us.
As Jesus neared the time when He would be betrayed into the hands of the tribunal that would seal His death warrant, He said:
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”” (John 12:27-28)
For Jesus, death wasn’t inevitable. He chose to die. This does make him different than us: He chose to become one of us and die for us. And because He chose it, could it have been any different for Him?
I began a two-part series on The God that we Judge with a little introduction. In reading and listening to people who judge “the God of the Old Testament” (or, more universally, “the God of the Bible”), I am shocked at how little understanding most people have about what they are judging and rejecting. My goal is to provide a little context and understanding, albeit it is very little.
For starters, the biblical narrative is the story of an infinite God revealing Himself to His finite, limited creation. That creation (humankind) has capacity to learn and to understand, but the limits in knowledge, experience, understanding, perspective, etc. must be overcome. The revelation is progressive, little by little over a long period of time. That perspective and understanding is developed through one people group that God tries to work with to a point when, at that right time, God introduces Himself into the creation/story in human form – Jesus.
Many of the people who judge “the God of the Old Testament” consider Jesus to be a wise man, like Ghandi. Jesus is the universal religious figure. All religions claim Jesus and acknowledge him, but many of them don’t consider Jesus to be God. Many people believe Jesus was just a wise man. Many people also believe Jesus to be very different than the God of the Old Testament. And that is where I will start in this second half of this two-part series.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us….” (John 1:1-5,14)
These are among my favorites verses in the entire Bible. When I read them as brand new creation, having just come to believe that Jesus was who He said He was, God in the flesh, and having committed myself to follow Him, these words virtually leapt off the page. They still resonate freshly with me.
As an English Literature major in college, I read the opening phrase – in the beginning was the Word – with wonder. Language, words, were special to me, and here was the very opening phrase in the New Testament placing supreme meaning and significance on the Word, “and the Word was God.”
The Word is God!
I recently listened to Tim Keller talking about this passage. Tim Keller, if you haven’t ever listened to or read him, is top shelf. No one synthesizes faith and culture better than he in my opinion. He breathes fresh life into this meaning-packed passage with the following observation:
“A person’s word is the clearest and ultimate revelation of who you are.”