God’s Promises to Man and the World

BEHOLD THE MAN, THE LAMB OF GOD

God asked Abraham to show his love by returning his Son Isaac to Him.  Father and son were carrying wood and fire up the hill of Moriah and Isaac asked, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burned offering?  The father answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burned offering, my son.  And the two of them went on together” (Gen. 22:6-8).  On an enormously larger showing of God’s love for man, Jesus declared, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).  John the Baptist pointed at Jesus and proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).  Pilate had the final say, “Behold the Man,” you are sacrificing (Jn. 19:5). “He was divine in nature, but did not insist on remaining equal with God; but, he emptied himself of his divine form and took on the lowly human form as a servant.  He was born like any other man and humbled himself by being subject and obedient even to death on a cross” (Phil.  2:6-8; DAK).

Six hundred years before John the Baptist pointed at Jesus as the one that would lay down his life for the world, God described Him to Isaiah the prophet. “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 draw us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrow and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:1-6).

The Apostle Paul, with help from heaven, summarized Isaiah in First Corinthians 15:21-22.  “For since death came through one man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  John the Baptist pointed at Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29).  The new man had to be without spot or wrinkle, free of sin and perfect like a lamb without blemish (I Pe. 1:19).  The new man called himself the “Son of Man,” and his mission was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets and do the will of God.  In the first fulfillment of prophecy, a virgin, untouched by a man, would bring him into the world and call him “God with us” (Is. 7:14; Mt. 1:22-23).  Jesus was born of the Spirit, but had to grow up experiencing childhood, adolescence and manhood like any other human being.  “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Lk. 2:41-52).  He did mature into a qualified teacher, and the first thing he did was go to his cousin John to be baptized.  When John the Baptist recognized who Jesus was he refused because he felt unworthy to lay his hands on the Anointed of God.  Jesus insisted, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15).  Only, Jesus had not come nor was he sent to act as the Son of God, but to fulfill the will of God as the Son of Man.  Everything Jesus did was as a human being, proving to man that it could be done.

After Jesus spent some time alone with God in the desert, he returned to Nazareth and assumed his role as a teacher.  He read Isaiah 61:1-2), a concise outline of who Jesus was, and what he had come to do. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good new to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recover sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  After he had read the promises of Isaiah, Jesus declared, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk. 4:13-21).  Herein after, Jesus saw himself as doing the will of God from the beginning of his ministry to the end.  My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” Jn. 4:34). Before Jesus was arrested, He prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me, yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mt. 26:39).

The first reason for Jesus’ coming was, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Lk. 5:32).  Jesus invited Matthew, a publican (unclean man) and sinner to be on his team.  He was criticized for keeping company with this kind of people, he replied, “Those that are healthy need no physician, but they that are sick do.  But go and learn what it means: ‘I will prefer mercy, and not (your kind of) sacrifice; for, I have not come to trouble the righteous, but sinners to change” (Mt. 9:9-13).  Jesus practically invaded the home of Zacchaeus, a publican (tax collector).  The man experienced a turn around in his life and he promised to make amends for his transgressions.  Jesus announced publicly, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, also, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk. 19:1-10; Mt. 18:11).

The second and most important reason for Jesus’ coming was to show us how to live a full life.  “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10).  Jesus said this as a man here on earth and not as a supernatural being.  How could he who had nothing feel fulfilled?  He did it by doing the will of his father in heaven.  “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (Jn. 5:30). “My teaching is not my own.  I come from him who sent me.  If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.  He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him” (Jn. 7:16-18). “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (Jn. 15:9-10). “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:12).  Jesus’ commands were merely a continuation of God’s Law.  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them,” (Mt. 5:17).  The people whom God had chosen to be a light in the world by following His Laws had replaced them with traditions and man-made rules (Mt. 15: 3-9; Mk. 7:6-13).

The third reason was to encourage his followers to remain steadfast.  His followers would have to make tough choices in a hostile world. “Do not think I have come to bring peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but division.  From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three” (Lk. 12:51-52).  In Matthew 10:34-39, based on the prophet Micah 7:6, Jesus predicted that to decide in his favor would lead to violence.  “I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter – in – law against her mother – in – law; a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”  “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follows me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his live will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” “A disciples is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.  It is enough for the disciple that he be like his master, and the servant like his lord.  If they call the master of the household, Beelzebub, how much more so them of his household” (Mt. 10:24-25).

The road did not end at the cross or in the grave but at the right hand of God. Christ died physically and returned by reassuming his divine nature. In his new body, Jesus appeared wherever he chose to be and passed doors without opening them.  He revealed himself only to those of his choosing.  “Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also” (Jn. 14:19). After three days and three nights, Jesus came back in a new body.  Where was his life or spirit during this time?  Jesus was preaching to the spirits in the lower world that were disobedient during Noah’s time.  Peter had special insight.  “For Christ also had to suffer for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, by being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit” (I Pe. 3:18-20).  It is the flesh that dies and not the spirit; but the spirit can be sapped of energy and requires an infusion.  Jesus had reached a point when his spirit needed quickening or vivifying. The Greek term is “zoopoietheis” and means renewing and not resurrecting a life.  Life is eternal and we can spend it with Jesus forever or in the place prepared for the devil and his angels.  Jesus offered no third option.