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Archive for December, 2007

The child of God is much advantaged to come to grips with the life lived by his Savior. I would suggest that the insights to be listed here are essential to a proper understanding of that most wonderful of all lives, and thus that the believer is well advised to consciously and deliberately include these realities in his conception of that life. 

#6 – Because the Jewish nation was weary of her Roman overlord, and because Jesus claimed to be Messiah and demonstrated that He was able to do miracles, His countrymen again and again insisted that they were willing to have Him as their Messiah/Deliverer.  But they wanted Him on their terms rather than His; they were willing to acknowledge that they needed someone to deliver them from Rome, but they denied that they needed anyone to deliver them from sin.  Throughout His ministry, Jesus employed a remarkable strategy to unmask the superficial and hypocritical nature of this public adulation paid Him by the multitudes: when confronted by shallow and self-serving proffers of acceptance, He would speak hard words–words which demanded a choice, the morally right choice being indicative of obedience/belief, but also involving a serious price to be paid by the one making that choice.  In thus driving His listeners to a difficult decision, Jesus often employed as a foil those Pharisees who had set themselves against Him, and this for two reasons. First, those Pharisees had established themselves as the purveyors of a doctrine of works righteousness (i.e. law-keeping); thus Jesus’ demand that men accept His claim to be the Messiah (most seminally, the God-given Deliverer from sin, Gen 3:16) necessarily entailed the demand that they reject the prevailing pharisaic doctrine.  Second, to reject the counsel of the Pharisees could bring awful reprisal (“out of the synagogue,” Jn 9:22, 34-35); thus in making that demand Jesus was testing the genuineness of the very facile offer of the multitudes to accept Him as Messiah.  Jesus uses this strategy in challenging the great multitudes following Him in Galilee when He preaches the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:20, cf. 7:13-15), in challenging those who after the feeding of the 5000 would “take Him by force and make Him king” (Jn 6:15, cf. :53-58), and in challenging the willingness of the city of Jerusalem to have Him as king as they had begged when He entered the city of Jerusalem in His triumphal entry (Mt 23:1-39).

(Insight #7 will be posted soon!)

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The child of God is much advantaged to come to grips with the life lived by his Savior.  I would suggest that the insights to be listed here are essential to a proper understanding of that most wonderful of all lives, and thus that the believer is well advised to consciously and deliberately include these realities in his conception of that life. 

#5 – The rejection of Jesus’ claims was not a matter of confusion, but of rebellion (John 2:11).  Official rejection came early and grew steadily until it exploded in the crucifixion.  The two great moments of rejection – the two events which function as the turning point in Jesus’ ministry – were the episode of the unpardonable sin (Mt 12:22-37, cf. :23) and later the feeding of the 5000 (Jn 6, cf. :66).  On the other hand, popular rejection, though just as real, was much more difficult to discern.  This was primarily because even though the mass of those to whom Jesus offered Himself as Messiah did not believe in His claims, He continued to be the wildly popular folk-hero of those masses; they were fascinated with Him, even if unwilling to bow the knee to His claims concerning Himself.  As a result of that wild-eyed excitement over Jesus that prevailed until the middle of the Passion Week, it was Jesus alone who discerned the true heart of the multitudes (see #8 to come). 

 

(Insight #6 will be posted soon!)

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The child of God is much advantaged to come to grips with the life lived by his Savior.  I would suggest that the insights to be listed here are essential to a proper understanding of that most wonderful of all lives, and thus that the believer is well advised to consciously and deliberately include these realities in his conception of that life. 

#4 – The purpose of Jesus’ many miracles was to prove true His astoundingly difficult claims concerning Himself (cf. John 3:2; Ac 2:22).  Thus, miracles were the most frequent during the period of Jesus’ ministry when His intent was to present Himself to Israel as her Messiah (i.e., the first 2½ years).  During the first half of the final year of His ministry (i.e., during that time when He was seeking solitude with His disciples in order to reveal to them the unsettling and startling fact that He was going to die and rise again), Jesus was reluctant to do miracles and anxious to escape the local notoriety which always accompanied the doing of miracles. On the other hand, when it once again became strategically important to do so, Jesus again worked many miracles. The greatest of the miracles wrought by Jesus, and thus the miracle with the most dramatic and important vindicating force, was His own bodily resurrection from the grave on the third day after His death and burial (Rom 1:4).

(Insight #5 will be posted soon!)

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The child of God is much advantaged to come to grips with the life lived by his Savior.  I would suggest that the insights to be listed here are essential to a proper understanding of that most wonderful of all lives, and thus that the believer is well advised to consciously and deliberately include these realities in his conception of that life.   

#3 – Throughout His public ministry, Jesus made two explicit claims concerning Himself: He claimed to be the Messiah of Israel (the Christ), and He claimed to be God come in the flesh (Mt 16:16; Jn 11:27; Mk 14:61).  This two-fold claim is the essence of the message which Jesus challenged men to believe concerning Himself (Jn 20:31).  It is difficult for us to imagine how difficult it was to accept these claims: the claim to Messiahship was difficult because in so many ways Jesus disappointed the self-serving but rabinically endorsed messianic ideals cherished by His contemporaries; and the claim that He was God come in the flesh was at once incongruous and scandalous.  On the other hand, because Jesus lived out perfectly His command to His disciples to be “as wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Mt 10:16, see #9 to come), His claim to Messiahship (i.e., to be King of Israel) was cleverly encoded in Old Testament figures and passages so that the claim would be unmistakable and compelling to Jews but appear innocuous to the Roman overlords. (This because had Jesus more explicitly claimed Messiahship/Kingship, He would have enabled His enemies to be rid of Him easily; Rome had no patience for pretender Kings in her domain.) Likewise, the claim to deity – scandalous to the Jews but to the Romans less incendiary than the claim to be king – was couched in ways especially telling to Jewish hearers.  For instance, the Scriptures insist that only God is eternal; thus when Jesus claimed pre-existence (Jn 8:56) He was understood by His Jewish auditors to be claiming deity.

 (Insight #4 will be posted soon!)

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The child of God is much advantaged to come to grips with the life lived by his Savior.  I would suggest that the insights to be listed here are essential to a proper understanding of that most wonderful of all lives, and thus that the believer is well advised to consciously and deliberately include these realities in his conception of that life. 

#2 – Jesus’ ministry of three and a half years is best conceived as including two distinguishable emphases.  The first 2½ years are well entitled Public Presentation; during this period Jesus is presenting Himself to Israel as her Messiah, saturating the land village by village and synagogue by synagogue with His claims, working countless miracles to authenticate those claims. This initial period collapses only after Israel had demonstrated her determination to reject Jesus’ claims no matter how compelling the evidence He offered for those claims (see #5 to come).  This was followed by a period of  Private Preparation; Jesus’ changed His tactics remarkably (quit Jewish territory, was reluctant to do miracles or to be spoken of openly) because He was seeking solitude with His disciples in order to reveal something to them that He knew was going to be very difficult: the reality of His coming death and resurrection.  That latter focus dominated during the last year of Jesus’ life, though He returned to a focus of public presentation in Judea and Perea during the months just before departing for the Passover at which He would die.  (See the chart at the following link)

https://therabbittrail.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/chronological-survey-of-the-three-and-a-half-year-ministry-of-jesus-christ.pdf

 

(Insight #3 will be posted soon!) 

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The child of God is much advantaged to come to grips with the life lived by his Savior.  I would suggest that the insights to be listed here are essential to a proper understanding of that most wonderful of all lives, and thus that the believer is well advised to consciously and deliberately include these realities in his conception of that life.   

#1 – In His incarnation, Jesus did not in any sense, to any degree, at any time, or for any season surrender any whit of deity (Col 2:9); indeed, the very notion of  “surrendering” deity is incongruous to the point of nonsense.  Jesus did, however, take upon Himself genuine human nature (Phil 2:6-8). There is ineffable mystery in the proposition that “the Word became flesh” as it is presented and developed in the Gospel narratives. But the stewardship of the believer is to bow the knee to all that the Scriptures make clear, even if there are dynamics or ramifications of revealed truth which ultimately transcend his ability to fully comprehend.   And the Scriptures make clear that Jesus’ humanity – albeit unfallen humanity – was genuine and entire.  Thus, as we read the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ life it is important to remember that except at those occasional and relatively infrequent times when the Holy Spirit directed Jesus to access and employ the superhuman capacities which are a function of His divine attributes, He lived out His life under the actual and real limitations intrinsic to unfallen humanity.

(Insight #2 will be posted soon!)

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