Monthly Archives: July 2013
More About God
The Human Jesus
(This blog follows and incorporates information provided in this blog and this blog. You may want to read these two before you continue reading this one, as I will assume that the reader is familiar with what was said there and therefore will not repeat that here.)
The very foundation of the Christian faith is based on this one truth: that the Lord Jesus Christ was, when He walked among us, God in the flesh. As John says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge [the humanity of ] Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. “ (1 John 4:1-3, my emphasis. This is from the 1984 version of the NIV, which does not capitalize the words “He” and “Him” when referring to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or God the Father. All following quotes are from this version of the NIV translation. Since internet links to this version no longer exist, I cannot cross-link to these verses.)
The point of this blog is to make sure everyone understands that the Lord Jesus Christ—as He is referred to in the all of the Apostles’ letters, as for example in 1 Corinthians 1:3: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”—is still God incarnate, God in the flesh; that He is still a human being, though now in a glorified body. As Paul says in 1 Tim 2:5-6: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men — the testimony given in its proper time.” (My emphasis.) Note that Paul refers to the human Jesus in the present tense. (Note also that since there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), and that that one God’s name is Jehovah (“I AM”) (Ex 3:14), then Jesus must be Jehovah God in the flesh.) It took me years of study to realize the very obvious truth concerning Jesus’ present humanity and to begin to understand its implications about how we interpret the Lord Jesus Christ’s (the Son of Man’s and Son of God’s) relationship to His Father, Jehovah God.
How do we know that Jesus is still a flesh-and-bone human being? He Himself testifies as to His current humanity when He says:
“For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”(Matt 16:27-28, my emphasis.)
Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man about 83 times in the New Testament. This is clearly Jesus’ reference to His human existence. And from the evidence of Scripture, we will be able to touch Him when we see Him in heaven because He has flesh and bones (Luke 24:39.) And we will eat with Him because He eats food and drinks wine (Matthew 26: 29, Luke 24:41 – 42 and John 21:12 – 15).
Here’s one mystery that is Christ: since He is a glorified human being, does He still have a human mind which generates thoughts that are not generated by God’s mind; or are His thoughts always identical with God’s thoughts? While Jesus walked the earth it is clear from Scripture that His human mind generated its own thoughts, which were, of course, constantly informed by the Spirit (the Person of the Father) who lived within Him (John 14:10). For example, He says He had His own will that He had to put aside to do His Father’s will (Luke 22:42 and John 6:38). It’s certainly impossible for the transcendent God of whom Jesus is the incarnation to have two wills. God is not schizophrenic: He can only have one mind, one will, and one set of thoughts. Therefore the will that Jesus calls His own will must be the will generated by His human brain with its human thoughts resulting from His human experiences and perspectives and His human body’s needs.
The reason this question arises is that it seems clear from Scripture that when we who are saved are raised from the dead, we will retain our earthly identities. It will be our individual souls along with all our memories and our sense of self that will be raised to life everlasting and clothed with an imperishable body (1 Corinthians 15: 42 – 44). Nowhere does Scripture suggest that our souls will be merged into a gestalt being where we lose our individual identities. And in the judgment, we will be addressed individually by name because our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, which is how we will gain passage into Heaven. Since Jesus was the first human being to undergo this process (“the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15)) it seems reasonable to assume that He too as a human being has retained His strictly human identity. If this be true, then the distinction of Person that the various ancient creeds refer to (which I discussed in a previous blog) must be the distinction between the human Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Person of Jehovah God, of whom Jesus is still the incarnation (John 14:10).
We also see that Jesus as a human entity is distinct from the purely spiritual God entity of whom He is the incarnation. We can see this distinctness most clearly in John’s Revelation:
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb.” (Rev 5:6-8.)
There can be no question that this lamb is a symbolic representation of the human Jesus. Note that you see two distinct entities in this scene: one standing in the midst of the throne and one seated on the throne.
Scripture also suggests that as King of Creation, the Lord Jesus Christ’s relationship to the Father is like that of a prime minister to a sovereign king, as, for example, was Joseph’s relationship to Pharaoh:
So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph , “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” (Gen 41:41-45.)
Simply put, Joseph was exalted to Pharaoh’s right hand and he ruled Egypt in Pharaoh’s place.
This appears to be true of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example Scripture says:
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ ” (Acts 2:31-35. Peter quotes Psalms 110:1, which has the capitalization presented here. The difference in the two words “Lord” and “Lord” is very significant in this context!)
And what happens to Jesus’ ‘prime minister hood’ when all His enemies have been defeated? Here’s what the Spirit tells us through the Apostle Paul:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:22-28. My emphasis.)
Note that Paul refers to the human Jesus here. He refers to Him as the first fruits of those who are to be raised from the dead, which was pointed out above. Then His reign as prime minister will apparently cease when the conditions of Psalms 110:1 have been met, namely, that all His enemies are put under His feet.
This is another mystery: what will this look like? How will the human Jesus relate to the transcendent God, Jehovah, of whom He will still be the incarnation?
That Jesus is both God and Man, there can be no question: Scripture is clear on this. But there are a million questions surrounding the mystery that is Christ.