Isaiah 49:4 – From Nothing and Vanity to Justice and Reward

Isaiah 49:4 But I said, “I have toiled in vain,
I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity;
Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the LORD,
And My reward with My God.”

When Jesus died on the cross, it certainly appeared that he had “toiled in vain,” and “spent his strength for nothing and vanity.”  However, his resurrection from the dead was “the justice due him and his reward from his God.”

In the crucifixion, Messiah had suffering (that’s the first two lines of Isaiah 49:4).  In the resurrection, however, Messiah had glory (that’s the last two lines of Isaiah 49:4).

For more on Messiah’s sufferings and glories, see Index to Posts on Sufferings and Glories.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Jesus Lionized the Prophets, not the Kings

Have you considered that Jesus did not extol the kings of Israel in the course of His ministry?  He did not point to them as models or suggest that He was walking in their steps.  Neither did He encourage His followers to look to them as heroes.

The prophets – not the kings – of Israel were the heroes to whom Jesus pointed.  He quoted them, He extolled them, He referred to them as examples.  He said that He was walking in their steps, especially with regard to His death in Jerusalem (Luke 13:33), and He urged His followers to take comfort in experiencing the same sort of human reactions as the prophets received (Matthew 5:10-12).

Certainly, Jesus extolled David, but remember that David was both a prophet and a king.  As such, he was the perfect model for Messiah, who would be like a prophet in His earthly life through death and then receive monarchial glory in resurrection.  That is, Messiah would suffer as a prophet and then be glorified as a king.  Only His kingly glory would far outstrip any glory accorded Israel’s prior kings.

The point here is not that Israel’s kings were bad and her prophets were good. Rather, the point is that a sincere and devoted disciple of Jesus is going to experience life more as the prophets did than as the kings did.  That is, suffering in this life…and glory in the one to come.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Psalm 22 Follows the Pattern of Suffering and Glory for Messiah

Read Psalm 22 in its entirety (that is, Psalm 22:1-31) and see that from verse 1 through the 18th verse, Messiah’s suffering is prophesied – sometimes in incredible detail.  (Remember that this psalm was written centuries before Jesus was born, which makes the detail all the more astonishing!)

Then notice that in verse 19 the tone begins to turn triumphant, and it crescendos to the end of the psalm.  This marked the glory of Christ’s deliverance from death in the resurrection.

This pattern of suffering and then glory for the Messiah is a theme of what we call the Old Testament.

As Paul preached:

Acts 26:22 “So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place;
Acts 26:23 that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

You can see how Psalm 22 follows the pattern Paul lays out here.  You can even see Christ (Messiah) proclaiming that light in verse 22!  This point is then confirmed by Hebrews 2:12.  Therefore, as He suffered and was glorified, so we who suffer with Him will be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Receiving Glory from Humans Impedes Faith in God

Jesus knew He was to receive glory.  See Luke 24:25-27.  That is, He knew that after the suffering of His rejection and crucifixion would come the glory given by God – beginning with His resurrection from the dead and His seating at the right hand of God, which were both works of God and not man.  All His glory therefore would be coming from God.  Thus Jesus was not willing to receive glory from men.  He says:

John 5:41 “I do not receive glory from men;

He went on to say explain why seeking glory from men instead of from God was so undesirable:

John 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

Receiving glory from men instead of God produces an impediment to our faith.  Faith is cultivated not with men, but with God:

Romans 14:22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God…

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jesus Fit the Mold of a Prophet

Jesus came in the mold of the Old Testament prophets.  Therefore, whoever seeks to imitate Him will be fitted to that mold as well.

This mold means suffering with Christ that we might also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17-18).

Do not think that the way of Christ is easy.  Many fall away (John 6:66).  However, blessed are those who endure.

James 5:10-11 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

Therefore, let us endure as the prophets did.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

When It Comes to Suffering and Glory, Humanity Provides the Suffering and God Provides the Glory

Yesterday’s post – Suffering for God Precedes Glory from God – focused on the sequence of suffering and glory.  Today’s post focuses on the sources of each.

When we suffer for God, the suffering comes from our fellow human beings.  Consider Jesus and how He suffered at the hands of human beings.  Think of His apostles and how they likewise suffered rejection and hostility.  This persecution does not always result in death as there are milder as well as stronger forms of persecution.  (By the way if we recoil at the milder forms of persecution, how ready would we be to accept the stronger ones?)

Glory comes from the hand of God, and it comes in the spiritual realm.  God does not care about pleasing people.  He only cares about loving them.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Suffering for God Precedes Glory from God

When we suffer for God, we are subsequently glorified by God.  First comes the suffering; later comes the glory.  In this regard, think of Jesus.  He suffered on earth…but then was glorified in heaven.

If we suffer for Christ here, we will be glorified with Him there.

Thus suffering for God precedes glory from God.

See also Humility and Exaltation Are Synonymous with Suffering and Glory.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Only Begotten God Is Unique

When John called Jesus “the only begotten God” in his gospel (John 1:18), he thereby distinguished Christ from all the other gods of heaven (as angels or heavenly beings were sometimes called in biblical times).  This comports with Hebrews 1:3-5 wherein the writer distinguished Jesus from all other angels or heavenly beings by referencing Psalm 2:7 in which the Messiah was said to be begotten by God in the resurrection (see also Acts 13:32-33 in this regard) – a distinction no angel, heavenly being, or god could ever boast.

Angels (we’ll just use that one term from here on) were created by God for heaven.  Jesus, by contrast, came to earth, died, and then was raised to heaven.  That is, He suffered for the place of honor that He received in heaven.  This distinction caused Him to be seated at the right hand of God.  Of course, we know now that He was – and is – God.  But neither heaven nor earth knew that back then.  God humbled Himself in every way to become Jesus of Nazareth, and only in the Second Coming was His identity full revealed.

He who descended for us is also He who ascended for us.  He who suffered for us is also He who was glorified for us.  Truly, His story is unique among all heavenly as well as earthly beings.  There is none like Him.  Thus the Scripture puts the words in our mouths “There is none like You, O Lord!”  (Jeremiah 10:6).

For more on how God became Christ so that Christ might become God, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Humility and Exaltation Are Synonymous with Suffering and Glory

The sufferings and glories of Messiah are central to the message of the Old Testament and of the entire Bible.  In this regard see the post The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory.

This same motif of suffering before glory can be described as humility before exaltation.  “Humble” and “exalt” are the words being used in Philippians 2:5-11, part of which is considered to be a hymn to Christ which Paul was quoting in his letter.  The point of the passage is that as Christ humbled Himself so that He might ultimately be exalted, so we should humble ourselves that we might ultimately be exalted.

In the economy of God, humility comes before exaltation.  That is, suffering precedes glory.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Creation – God = the World

The world equals creation minus God.

This is how the Bible uses the term “world” in verses such as James 4:4 and 1 John 2:15-17.  That is, worldly thinking is to look around and perceive life as if God is not present.  The world’s defining characteristic is its cold shoulder toward God.  Or more like its back is toward God.

So, “the world” means life without God.  Or you could say life without faith.  It’s therefore more accurate to call it “existence” than to call it “life.”

Even Christians, while professing a faith in God, often live as if God were absent from creation (see Professing Christian, Practicing Atheist).

We are to be “in the world and not of it.”  (This expression is not found in the Bible, but it is trustworthy.)

The world is subject to the kingdom of God which is in our midst (Revelation 11:15).  Thus when we trust and obey Christ we are obeying a higher power while living in the midst of the world.

Let us therefore turn from the dominion of the world (that is, the dominion of Satan) and turn to the dominion of Christ: Acts 26:15-18.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

An Apparent Contradiction in Scripture Is Never an Actual Contradiction

Some apparent contradictions in Scripture are a result of the vagaries of assembling scores of texts written by dozens of authors, few of whom had contact with each other, and whose original manuscripts were copied and transmitted by many hands over the course of millennia.  That we might find some discrepancies on minor matters is to be expected.  I believe were we to know all the details involved, however, we could reconcile even such details.  But these are not the apparent biblical contradictions about which I want to speak.

A riddle is an apparent contradiction.  And the Bible’s prophecies of messiah are often given in riddle-like fashion.  For example, Psalm 118:22 says that the rejected stone will be the chief cornerstone.  This, of course, does not make sense.  But rather than being a nonsensical statement, it’s a riddle which awaits explanation.  Or, as the New Testament writers would put it, a mystery which awaits revelation.  Jesus was, of course, the stone that was rejected…and who became the chief cornerstone.  He was rejected in the flesh…and glorified in the spirit.  See  Matthew 21:33-46 where Jesus addresses Psalm 118:22…and confounds the Pharisees, who were rejecting Him.

Another example of such an apparent contradiction is Psalm 110:1 in which David’s descendant is called his heir.  How can one’s child be considered one’s superior (or elder)?  Again, the answer was Jesus: the Messiah of Israel.  He was David’s descendant according to the flesh (that is, by human birth) but David’s superior according to the spirit through His resurrection from the dead.  See Matthew 22:41-46 where Jesus points out this riddle and stumps the Pharisees with it.

Apparent contradictions are at the heart of messianic prophecy because the unifying theme of that prophecy is the suffering and glory of Messiah.  Suffering and glory, of course, are not naturally compatible.  We don’t usually think of them at the same time.  And indeed that’s the resolution of the tension – the suffering and the glory do not occur at the same time.  Messiah’s sufferings precede His glories.  His sufferings come when He’s on earth, in the flesh, before He dies.  His glories come when He’s in heaven, in the spirit, after He’s raised from the dead.

God cannot lie.  This means He cannot contradict Himself.  He can’t say that something is true and not true at the same time and in the same way.

Therefore, recognize that when you see an apparent contradiction in the Bible, know it’s not actual.  And when you see it, recognize that it’s a promise of revelation.  That is,  as Jesus said, “nothing is hidden except to be revealed; nothing has been kept secret except that it might come to light.”

For more on biblical riddles see to the right under Categories “Riddles.”

For more on Messiah’s sufferings and glories see to the right under Categories “Suffering and Glory” – especially the post The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Last Generation of Ancient Israel

The last generation of ancient Israel was that one we read about in the New Testament.  That generation had a twofold purpose:

  1. Bear witness to Messiah (that is, confess Him before the entire world).
  2. Announce, and prepare to enter, the kingdom of God which Messiah was about to bring in.

To these two purposes that generation was faithful (though many of its members failed, enough succeeded in holding fast the word of truth).  Because of their faithfulness, we today have the New Testament which conveys that truth to us.  Thus we can consider them truly the greatest generation.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

As from Suffering to Glory, so from Flesh to Spirit

Note the paradigm present in Romans 1:1-4:  Jesus was the son of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the Spirit.

Thus also Christ suffered in the flesh, and was glorified in the spirit.

Messiah walked on earth…and suffered for it.  He then walked in heaven…and was glorified through it.

See the master post The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Sufferings of Christ Came from Us, the Glories Came from God

The glory (i.e. exaltation) of Christ (or Messiah) consisted of that which God would do by His hand.  Therefore, it was prophesied by promise (as in “Thus saith the Lord, I will…”).

The sufferings consisted of what we would do to Messiah, for this is the way mankind treats God.  Therefore, to prophesy, God simply had to state what man would continue to do to Him.  That is, humanity would do to the one God would send (i.e. Messiah) what it had been, and was, doing to God.

The sufferings took place on earth because that was where men could get their hands on God’s Messiah.  The glories took place – and forever take place – in heaven where sinful man cannot reach.

See also the key post The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory, which provides an overview a context for studying Messiah’s sufferings and glories as well as links to other posts on this all-important subject.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Even the Very First Messianic Promise Conveyed Both the Suffering and Glory in Store for Him

You should be aware of the importance of “suffering and glory” as a theme where biblical prophecy of Messiah is concerned.

Consider Genesis 3:15 wherein God promises that “the seed of the woman” (the first messianic title) would be bruised on the heel (a defeat for Messiah) yet would bruise the serpent on the head (a victory for Messiah).  The imagery is unmistakable: Christ would be wounded, but would ultimately triumph over Satan.  Through crucifixion (that is, bruising Messiah on the heel) and then resurrection-ascension (that is, bruising Satan on the head), Messiah would right the wrong that the serpent had done to Adam and Eve.

(With respect to suffering and glory, be sure to notice Luke 24:25-27 and 1 Peter 1:10-12 – both of which are mentioned in the link above.)

Thus, even from the very beginning, God was predicting that Messiah would both suffer and be glorified.  What’s most important about this is that the suffering comes first, and the glory follows.  This means that suffering is temporal but glory is eternal.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Work of God in Christ Was in Fulfillment of God’s Promise

God is faithful.  He keeps His promises.

The Hebrew Bible (that is, the Old Testament) is the accumulated record of various promises God made concerning that person we generally call “Israel’s Messiah.”

In Acts 13:23, the apostle Paul characterizes the coming of Jesus of Nazareth as fulfillment of these promises.  Paul makes the resurrection a focal point of the promises in verses 32 and 33.  And indeed the resurrection is the central point in the work of God through Christ.  (Paul reiterates this central point in the opening verses of his letter to the Romans.)

We can celebrate the fact that God announced well in advance, by promising, the great work of reconstruction that we see in Jesus Christ.  As Peter said in Acts 3:18, God had “announced beforehand” what would happen through Christ – the sufferings first, and the glories to follow (Luke 24:25-27; 1 Peter 1:10-12).  These “announcements” came in the form of “promises.”  Thus God not only accomplished great things through Christ, He also demonstrated in the process His faithfulness (that is, His dependability, His reliability, His trustworthiness).  He keeps His promises.  We should know that by now.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Index to Posts on Sufferings and Glories

This index is not complete.  To find more posts on this subject, do a search on the site for “suffer glor” (without, of course, the quotation marks).  Recognize, however, that some of the posts found in this way may only mention sufferings and glories in a peripheral way and/or be redundant to what you read here.

Here is the key post to read on sufferings and glories:  The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory

The Sufferings of Messiah and the Glories to Follow

We Know Something of the Sufferings of Christ, but We Need to Study More the Glories

The Sufferings of Christ and the Glories to Follow

UPDATE:  I’ve since created a “Category” for these posts.  Look to the right in the sidebar for the category “Suffering and Glory.”  That will provide a more comprehensive and up-to-date list than this index.  Note, however, that the instruction above about a blog search on “suffer glory” is still useful as the category will not capture every single post that references sufferings and glories.

We Are Joint Heirs with Christ…of the Earth

Romans 8:16-17 says that we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” – at least when “we suffer with Him that we might also be glorified with Him.”  This might remind you of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount – that the humble shall inherit the earth.  Certainly, it takes humility before God to bear up under suffering when suffering unjustly (1 Peter 2:19).  Jesus demonstrated this humility that we might imitate it (Philippians 2:3ff).

The result of living this way is that the earth is ours!  This is a promise worth pondering.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory

Elsewhere I have posted that the Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) is about Jesus Christ.  More specifically, it is about His suffering and glory.  See the following New Testament verses which bring out this truth (some of which are repeated from the other post):

Luke 24:25-27, 44-48

John 7:39; 12:16, 23  (These verses mention the glory that would follow the suffering, without mentioning the suffering explicitly.)

Acts 3:13, 18-26

Acts 8:26-35 (This passage testifies only about the sufferings and does not reference the glories, though they are implied by the context)

Acts 13:26-41 (verses 27-29 speak of His suffering; verses 30-37 speak of His glory)

Acts 26:22-23

Romans 8:17-18, 19-22  (This passage speaks of believers partaking in Messiah’s sufferings and glories; similar passages are Philippians 2:5-11 and 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, both mentioned farther below)

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (In a nutshell, crucifixion was the suffering and resurrection was the glory.)

1 Peter 1:10-12

The theme of suffering and glory found in the New Testament (as shown above) can be traced to the messianic passages of the Old Testament.  Sometimes such a passage will speak of Christ’s suffering; one such passage is Isaiah 53:7-8.  Other times a passage will speak of Christ’s glory, such as Isaiah 52:13.  And then there are even single verses that speak of both suffering and glory, like Psalm 118:22.

Concepts synonymous with “suffering and glory” would include “humility and exaltation” as seen in Philippians 2:5-11, and “affliction and glory” as seen in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.  Thus just as Christ suffered before He was glorified, He could be said to have humbled Himself before He was exalted, and afflicted before He was glorified.  (See this theme also in James 4:10 and 1 Peter 5:5-6).

For more on Messiah’s suffering and glory as found in the Old Testament, look under the “Category” (to the right, in the sidebar) for “Suffering and Glory.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Glorious Israel

John 1:14 says, speaking of Jesus, “We beheld His glory.”  Later on, in John 12:41, John says that Isaiah also had beheld Messiah’s glory.

What kind of glory was this?  It was not the earthly, worldly glory to which we are accustomed.  Jesus did not live in a palace.  He did not wear royal robes.  He did not have soldiers protecting Him.  He did not have armies at his disposal.  The glory Jesus had was the glory of God.  God attended the doings of Jesus because Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).  God was with him.

Those Jews who followed Jesus imitated Him in doing good.  And thus God attended them as well.  And just as they beheld Jesus’ glory, so we behold Jesus’ glory in them when we read the New Testament writings.

In John 21:18-19 Jesus speaks of the ignominious death Peter would suffer – a death that Jesus said would “glorify God.”  The movement of first-century Jews, accompanied by some Gentiles – which bore witness to Jesus Christ – saw many deaths.  Thus was God glorified through that generation of ancient Israel.  In fact, what we see in the New Testament was a glory of Israel that no prior  generation had achieved.  Their glory was in their witness to the Glorious One.  God was with them.

Let us never speak of a more glorious Israel than that.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Theme of Christ’s Suffering and Glory

Consider how the Bible speaks of Christ’s suffering and glory, and in varied ways.

The Bible speaks of His suffering at the hands of men and His glory from the hand of God.

The Bible speaks of His crucifixion and His resurrection.

The Bible speaks of His rejection by men and His acceptance by God.

The Bible speaks of His death on earth and His ascension into heaven.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Suffering and Glory in Psalm 118:22

Jesus said in Luke 24:25-27 that the prophets had written that the messiah had to suffer and then enter into his glory.  Psalm 118:22 depicts both that suffering and glory.

The suffering was in being rejected (crucifixion), and the glory was in being made the chief corner stone (resurrection).

Peter references Psalm 118:22 in 1 Peter 2:7 and then sounds the theme of suffering and glory explicitly in 1 Peter 5:1ff.

Paul employs this theme in Romans 8:17 (for it was surely a well-known theme among all the early Christians), describing in the verses that followed how the Christ paradigm works to our benefit.

This theme of “suffering and glory” is rich in the Scriptures and we should seek to understand it better.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Isaiah 52:13

Jesus of Nazareth was the servant of the Lord prophesied in this verse from Isaiah.

Before Jesus came, people who heard this scripture envisioned someone great in the earth: a king, a mighty warrior to defeat Israel’s enemies.  It was the resurrection from the dead, however, that God had in mind – an exaltation so great no one had contemplated it.

Oh, the people of Israel had a hope in resurrection from the dead.  However, they did not foresee the sufferings of Messiah as leading to the glories of Messiah (Luke 24:26).  The reign of Messiah from a heavenly Jerusalem rather than from an earthly Jerusalem was certainly an understanding that came only with Jesus’ resurrection and His explanation of it to His disciples.

We, however, have the benefit of hindsight and can look back at this verse penned over half a millennium before Christ was born and see the great glory of God’s prophecy through Isaiah.  Oh, how wondrous it is!  Who can compare to the servant of the Lord in Isaiah 52:13?  He is high and lifted up, and greatly exalted!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

As Saul Tired of Waiting for Samuel, So the Post-Apostolic Church LeadersTired of Waiting on Jesus

An earlier post described how the church leaders after the apostles resembled Saul in his impatience regarding Samuel’s coming.  One of the results of this impatience is that we were presented with the Trinity as an explanation of God.

Think about it.  God decides to explain Himself to us by coming to earth and living as Jesus of Nazareth.  Of course, this was no common life and it ended in awful rejection and dreadful suffering.  Yet He was raised from the dead, and the rejection and suffering were according to His plan so that He might fully demonstrate the depths of God’s love.  Oh how glorious is our Creator’s explanation of Himself!  Then church leaders come along after the apostles and say, “No, we have a better idea:  we’re going to explain God: He’s a trinity which means He’s one but He’s three but He’s one but…”

Saul should not have offered the sacrifice Himself; He should have waited for Samuel.  Similarly, those who try to explain God as a trinity would have done better to trust the Lord to come and explain Himself further…in our hearts.  Instead, they gave us the foolish babbling of human wisdom.  And it has distracted us from Christ ever since.

Christ is Lord!  Let us serve Him with a united heart and a single focus.

For more, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Christ Died to the Law That He Might Live to Give Us Grace

Christ died and rose to live again that He might become Lord of both the dead and the living (Romans 14:9).

Messiah was born and lived under the Law (Galatians 4:4-5).  Having fulfilled the Law, He was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God where all power in heaven and earth was vested in Him (Matthew 28:18).

It was at this moment that Messiah (i.e. Christ) was declared Lord (Acts 2:34-36).  The sufferings of Christ had been fulfilled and this marked the beginning of Christ’s glories (Luke 24:26; 2 Peter 1:10-11).

In this inauguration of glory, Christ poured out the riches of His grace upon us (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7; 3:8).  Or, as the apostle John would write, “grace upon grace” (John 1:16).  Hence it is called a “throne of grace” where we may receive mercy and find grace to help in a time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Prior to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, God the Father had been Lord and such grace was unavailable to us (Galatians 3:23).  Let us not underestimate the significance of the moment when Psalm 110:1 was fulfilled (Acts 2:34-36).  Prior to that moment, only Christ had seen all the riches of grace in the Scriptures.  After that moment, those riches became available to all through Christ.  And there will be no end to their availability.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Applying the Suffering-to-Glory Paradigm in Your Own Life

It is fairly well-known among Bible readers that Paul complained to the Lord about a thorn in the flesh and received the response, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).  What’s not so well known is the great paradigm this invoked for Paul.

In the very next chapter, Paul makes reference to the crucifixion of Jesus which was in weakness, to be followed by His resurrection which was because of the power of God (2 Corinthians 13:5).  Thus Paul had begun to see his thorn in the flesh as an echo of Christ’s own suffering – and he saw God’s response to such suffering when handled with grace as achieving glory (1 Peter 2:19).  This gave Paul quite a bit of motivation to endure the suffering instead of complain about it, or even seek to have it prematurely removed.

While we don’t know the precise nature of Paul’s suffering we do know that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12).  We also know that Paul saw suffering with Christ as a way of eventually being gloried with Christ (Romans 8:17).  Because of the teaching of Jesus in Luke 24 (see the posts from the last several days on this theme of suffering and glory), the apostles expounded on glory, and sought it, in a way that had not seemed natural to them before (John 21:19; Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 4:16).

Before finishing, I should point out that there is a lot of suffering in the world that has nothing to do with suffering for Christ – least of all that suffering we bring on ourselves when we sin.  I am not commending  that kind of suffering.  Rather, I am only extolling the suffering with Christ that leads to glory with Christ.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

We Know Something of the Sufferings of Christ, but We Need to Study More the Glories

In the early chapters of Acts, not long after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the apostle Peter boldly proclaimed to a Jerusalem crowd, “[T]he things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18 NASB) – thus clearly declaring an end to Christ’s sufferings.  He went on to exhort his listeners to repent and turn to this Jesus who’d now been exalted to heaven.  As the sufferings of Messiah had ceased, so the glories of Christ had commenced – including the adoration of many repentant sinners.

In one of his letters, Peter invoked the suffering-glory paradigm of Messiah which He had learned from Jesus in Luke 24 (discussed in yesterday’s post, The Sufferings of Christ and the Glories to Follow) as follows:

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  1 Peter 1:10-11 NASB, underlining added

Because the gospel narratives deal so explicitly with the sufferings of Christ, especially as fulfillment of prophecy, we know a great deal about them.  What we need to learn much more about are His glories.  They are written about throughout the epistles, but much more lies in the Old Testament prophets, waiting for us to realize that the apostles saw so much more in them than we realize.

Let us return to the Scriptures (both testaments) eager to find the full extent of Christ’s glories.  As we do, we will be awestruck with His majesty and do away with man-made doctrines such as the Trinity which obscure the glory of Christ our Lord.

To learn more about Christ versus the Trinity, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Sufferings of Messiah and the Glories to Follow

Yesterday’s post (The Gospels Are Biographies…of a Different Kind) pointed out that the gospels are shaped largely around the last week of Christ’s life and the build up to it – the time of His sufferings.  Israel’s prophets had been so specific about how the Messiah would suffer that the apostles could describe what they saw in very specific scriptural terms.  Of course, these prophecies only became apparent to the apostles after the resurrection when Jesus explained them (Luke 24:25-27, 31-32, 44-48).  Jews of that day were primarily expecting the Messiah to be a great and victorious leader.  They overlooked or downplayed most of the descriptions of His suffering.

When the resurrected Jesus was explaining to His disciples that everything that had happened to Him had been foretold by the prophets, He said, “Was it not necessary for the Christ (i.e. Messiah) to suffer these things and to enter into His glory” (Luke 24:26 NASB).  The resurrection of Christ was thus the end of His sufferings and the beginning of His glory.  This was indeed the pivotal moment of all human history – and always will be.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Gospels Are Biographies…of a Different Kind

The four gospels of the New Testament which tell us about the life of Christ – Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John – can rightly be called biographies because they are writings about a life.  However, they do not follow the same shape as most biographies written today.

The gospels focus on roughly three years of Jesus’ life – the last three.  And the biggest part of the narratives is taken up with the last week of His life.  There is a very specific reason for this – the prophecies of Messiah (Christ) in the Old Testament.

When the Old Testament prophets wrote about the great figure that God would one day send to redeem Israel and the world, they did not write very much about what His childhood would be like.  Neither did they write very much about what His early adulthood would be like.  They did write about the ministry He would conduct (including His teaching and miracles), and they especially took pains to prophesy the treatment He would receive in response to all that He did and taught.  These are called the sufferings of Christ and include His trial, scourging, crucifixion, and death.  Therefore, the gospels are shaped primarily around Christ’s sufferings.  (His glories would begin with His resurrection and ascension into heaven – Luke 24:26.)

The gospels are eyewitness accounts of Jesus, and, specifically, they are eyewitness accounts of how His life  and death fulfilled the prophecies written in the Old Testament.  For this reason, the gospels are biographies with a different shape than that of modern biographies.  Whoever else had so much written about his life  before he ever lived it?

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

When Jesus Became Christ

Jesus did not become the heavenly Son of God until He was raised from the dead (see the recent post When Jesus Became the Son of God).  And He did not become Lord of heaven and earth until after He was raised from the dead (see the recent post When Jesus Became Lord).  He had become Christ well before that.

Jesus became the Christ when He was conceived in His mother’s womb (Matthew 1:20).  The fullness of Christ’s role, as prophesied by the Scriptures, however, began with His suffering which culminated in His crucifixion.  This would be followed by His glorification.  The Scriptures taught that Messiah would experience sufferings, followed by glory (Luke 24:26; Acts 3:18; 1 Peter 1:10-11).  Thus, being declared “the Son of God” and “Lord” were part of the glory that followed the suffering of the cross.

The suffering of Christ is finished (John 19:30).  The only suffering that the Lord and the heavenly Son of God would suffer would be when He shared in the sufferings of His people (Acts 9:3-5).  Hallelujah!  His suffering is over; only His glory remains.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Proclamations About Jesus in the Book of Acts

In the Acts of the Apostles we see several bold, emphatic, and repeated declarations regarding Jesus of Nazareth as a result of His resurrection from the dead:

He is the Christ (Messiah) – Acts 2:36; 3:18-20; 5:42; 8:5; 9:22; 17:3; 18:5, 28

He is the Lord – Acts 2:36; 8:16; 10:36; 11:17

He is the Son of God – Acts 8:37; 9:20; 13:33

Jesus’ true nature and identity were glimpsed by some before His suffering and death.  And certainly, since the gospels were written well after Jesus’ resurrection, His apostles’ high view of Him can be seen in their retrospectives we call the gospels.  Nevertheless, Jesus’ identity as Christ, Lord of heaven, and Son of God went largely unnoticed during His earthly life.  This was all according to plan, for Jesus ministered as an anointed son of Abraham during the days of His flesh.  In the days of His spirit, however, He was made Lord of heaven and Son of God in a way that outstripped all earthly glory of those titles.  The epistles return to these truths about Jesus again and again.  Meditate on them and understand who Jesus is to us.

Behold the Lamb of God in the book of the Acts of the Apostles…and enjoy Him forever!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Our Sufferings with Christ Are Not Worthy to Be Compared to the Glory

Everyone who desires to live godly after the manner of Jesus Christ shall be persecuted.  That persecution, however, is not worthy to be compared to the glory that God will bestow on us if we bear up under that suffering as Jesus bore up under His.

At the close of 2 Corinthians 4 and also in the middle of Romans 8, Paul makes the point that while glory will come as a result of our sufferings, the glories we’ll enjoy are all out of proportion to the sufferings we endure.

Our sufferings are temporary, because all of life on earth is temporary.  “All flesh is like grass.”  How can this compare to heavenly glory which is eternal – that is, continuous and never-ending!  Moreover, God’s consolations always outweigh our plights simply because God is generous.  He always gives more and does more than we would ask or think.

As He did with Joseph, He makes us forget all our trouble and makes us bear fruit in the land of our affliction.  As with the resurrection, He raises us not just back to earth – but all the way to heaven!

Let us therefore consider ourselves blessed if we are allowed to suffer for His name, knowing that His benefits make such suffering more than worthwhile. Let us also never forget that perhaps the greatest benefit of all is not anything that comes later, but it’s the assurance in the moment of suffering that we are honoring Him who suffered for us.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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If We Suffer with Him, We Will Be Glorified with Him

Christ suffered in the flesh for His devotion to God.  As a consequence, He was glorified in heaven.  If we suffer in the flesh for Christ, we, too, shall be glorified in heaven with Him.

For this reason, when the mother of the sons of Zebedee (the apostles James and John) asked Jesus that they be placed on His right and left when He came in His kingdom, Jesus responded to her, “You don’t know what you’re asking for.”  Then He turned to the two men and said, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?”  (He was speaking of His cup of suffering.)  They replied that they were…and indeed they did ultimately drink of it.  James was martyred in Acts 12 and extrabiblical history tells us that John was miraculously delivered from a vat of boiling oil, just to note the more dramatic of their sufferings.

We do not receive heavenly glory because of suffering due to our own sins.  Neither will we receive glory if we revile and condemn the perpetrators of our undeserved suffering.  But if we suffer because of Christ and bear up under those sufferings the way Christ did, then we shall be glorified as He was.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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The Sufferings of Christ and the Glories to Follow

The gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ was written in a mystery by the prophets who penned the Scriptures by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  In 1 Peter 1, the apostle Peter describes the process whereby the prophets did this.  This parallels the passage in Luke 24 where the freshly-resurrected Jesus gently criticizes His disciples for not recognizing that the Messiah had to first suffer and then be glorified.  This theme – suffering and glory – runs through Scripture.

The sufferings have to do with the flesh, and are of an earthly nature.  The glories have to do with spirit, and are of a heavenly nature.  Those who seek earthly glory are constantly missing God.  God is not impressed with earthly glory.  If He had been, He would have sent Jesus to establish a kingdom like that of David or Solomon.  Instead, Jesus came to establish a kingdom of heavenly glory on earth.

The sufferings of Christ were all witnessed by the apostles, who wrote them down for us to contemplate.  The glories that followed were all in the heavenly realm – and these must be taken by faith.  However, since the sufferings were witnessed and reliable, we should have no problem believing the glories.  Those glories include Christ’s coronation in heaven and His return to earth in the kingdom of God.  Thus one of His glories is that He is among us now.  Let us worship Him with every thought!

Consider also:  The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

Psalm 110 – A Psalm of Christ

Psalm 110 is quoted throughout the New Testament, and always in reference to Christ.

David wrote it and began it with the words, “The Lord said to my Lord.”  Jesus knew that the scribes and Pharisees rightly regarded this as a messianic psalm (i.e. a psalm of Christ).  Yet He knew they would stumble over its meaning because to understand it you would have to understand that the Messiah would first suffer, and then, by virtue of His resurrection and ascension, enter into His glory.  (That’s the only way David could call his descendant “Lord” because normally it’s descendants who regard their elders and ancestors with such respect.)  This was an understanding that no one displayed until Jesus explained it to His disciples after His resurrection (even though He seemed to chide them because they hadn’t understood it – see Luke 24 beginning with verse 13).

The book of Hebrews deals with this psalm extensively, especially the Melchizedek portion, referring to this as “mature” teaching about the Christ (as contrasted with elementary teaching about the Christ).  Since the name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness, there is certainly teaching about the kingdom of God in this letter.

There is much, much more we have to learn about the Christ.  All the Scriptures testify about Him, including Hebrews…and the Psalms.  If we do not always see Christ in them perhaps it is because we are dull of hearing.  If that is so, God grant us repentance so that we may learn more of Him!

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

Do You Know What You Are Asking?

So often when we pray, we do not know what we are asking.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee (the apostles James and John) certainly did not know what she was asking when she asked Jesus if her sons could sit on His right and left when He came into His kingdom.  She thought she was asking for her sons to sit at a place of honor like that which was arrayed around King David in the earlier days of Israel.  She knew Jesus was the son of David and that He would reign over Israel.  What she did not know was that His path to the throne of glory led through the cross.  If she had known it, this mother may not have made this request for she was, in effect, requesting that her sons be persecuted to the point of cruel death.

Christ’s glory is the measure of underserved suffering He took upon Himself for the sake of God.  Similarly, to be close to Him in heaven James and John would have to take on considerable suffering beyond what they deserved as common sinners.

Earthly glory is one thing; heavenly glory is quite another.  Heavenly glory comes at a huge earthly price.  Those who love God, as James and John did, are willing to pay that price.  Let us try to be sure of what we are asking when we pray.  But neither let us shrink from suffering if it will bring Him glory.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

Possessing the Gate of Your Enemies

In Genesis 22, after the Lord proved Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice the life of his only son, God spoke a promise to Abraham saying, “Your seed shall possess the gate of your enemies.”  In Genesis 24, as Rebekah was preparing to leave home in order to be married to Abraham’s only son, her family blessed her saying, “May your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.”

In antiquity, possessing the gates of one’s enemies was a sure means to peace and tranquility in life.  In those days, cities were usually fortified, with its gates controlling entry and exit.  Therefore, whoever controlled the gates, controlled the city.  If you controlled the gates of your enemies, then their destiny was in your hands.

Up until the time of Jesus Christ, Satan controlled the gates of death.  All who passed through those gates belonged to him.  Jesus, before His suffering and crucifixion in Jerusalem, promised that these gates would not prevail over the following that He was building (“gates of Hades” was another name for “gates of death”).  Indeed, three days after Jesus died, He rose from the dead, breaking through those gates.  He was the first to have ever done so.  (His friend Lazarus had only been given a temporary reprieve from death.)  Jesus triumphed over death, for He went on to ascend into heaven.  Micah in 2:13 had prophesied that “the Breaker” would go through the gate, and before the rest.  Jesus was “the Breaker.”  Paul confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15 that there was an order to the resurrection, with Christ being first, and the rest to follow later.

In the coming of the kingdom, which occurred according to the biblical timetable around the late 1st Century A.D., the gates of death were, in effect, moved, such that death would no longer lead below to Hades but rather above to heaven.  Indeed, Abraham’s seed possesses the gates of His enemies – in a way far more grand, glorious, and eternal than anyone on earth had ever imagined!  Death is now merely a doorway into a greater life in heaven.

See also Everyone Is Going to Heaven.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

Psalm 97:6

The verse had rich meaning as it was written under the Old Covenant.  The heavens, whether viewed at night or during the day, are glorious beyond description.  Their predictability and reliability only add to that glory.  Truly these works of God have been seen and admired by all peoples.

Though we could rest content with this understanding, God would have us see this verse in light of His great redemptive work through Christ.  That is, Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into the heavens.  At the last trumpet, He brought up all the dead to be with Him.  The angels of God marveled at this feat!

All heaven had witnessed the righteous life He had lived on earth – not reviling when reviled, not threatening when suffering abuse.  He was indeed the sinless, spotless, worthy Lamb of God, given for the sins of the world.  The angels rejoiced without measure when He was restored to His heavenly home in stupendous glory.  Just as the prophets had written in the Scriptures: the Christ was to suffer, and then would enter into His glory.  H was revealed in the flesh; He was vindicated in the spirit.  He suffered on earth; He was glorified in heaven.

The heavens spoken of here under the New Covenant understanding, as you can see, are the spiritual heavens.  Thus this verse, as so many did, foretold the Messiah to come.  Beginning from this Scripture – reminiscent of Philip in Acts 8 – you can preach Jesus to anyone.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

The Messiah Is God and That’s Why He’s Not Coming Back in the Flesh Anymore

Yesterday’s post, The Messiah Is God, described how God designed ahead of time a human identity He would use to walk among us.  This design was revealed over several thousand years of human history and recorded in the Scriptures which were written before Jesus’ birth.  This identity described how Messiah would live on earth (His sufferings) but also how He would reign in heaven after His resurrection (His glories).

Only after God had lived through the sufferings of Messiah, did He focus the attention of his followers on the glories of Messiah.  Those glories would bring in the kingdom of heaven, the day of the Lord, the new heavens and new earth, and incorporate all those events usually called the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Once the glories were completed at the end of the apostolic generation (which could also be called the New Testament age), God was free to remove the veil and reveal that He Himself had been Messiah. It is a wondrous thought that enters the human heart – the realization that Jesus Christ was none other than God Himself in the flesh.

Because Messiah was an identity that God assumed for a period of time in order to accomplish His purposes, and because He has now revealed that He Himself was Messiah, there would be no reason for Him to assume human form again.  Therefore, the hopes of those who expect to see a Second Coming of Jesus in the flesh will continue to go unfulfilled.  They should have listened to Paul who said in 2 Corinthians 5:16 that while “we did know Christ in the flesh, we know Him thus no longer.”  (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again)

Just as it was not possible for the prophecies of Messiah to be fully understood apart from the resurrection, so it is not possible to understand the fullness and finality of Christ’s work apart from acknowledging that He was, and is, God.  The whole thrust of Jesus’ work through His apostles was to convert believing Jews and Gentiles from a fleshly orientation in the Law of Moses to a spiritual orientation.  To bring back Jesus in the flesh would run entirely counter to this thrust.

“God is spirit,” Jesus told the woman at the well in Sychar, “and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  He came into a world where people focused myopically on earthly things with a goal to shift their gaze heavenward.  It is high time we took His words seriously, stop looking for flesh, and start worshiping in spirit and truth the one and only God, our Messiah.

God doesn’t want a relationship with you in the flesh.  He wants one in the spirit, because that is far more intimate.  In the flesh, He could be close to you – but still always outside you.  In the spirit, He can dwell inside you.  Thus, He stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20).

For more on this subject, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ

Acts 13:22 (A Man After My Own Heart Who Will Do All My Will)

This passage explicitly describes King David, but it is clearly a type of Jesus Christ.

David’s great passion for God foreshadowed the heart of Jesus.  We see David’s enthusiasm for God in every phase of his life.  He was devoted to God as a shepherd boy, fending off lions and bears to protect his father’s flock.  He was devoted to God as soldier, slaying Goliath with a minimum of weaponry and a maximum of courage.  He was devoted to God as a king, putting Israel on the map with military victories and wise alliances.  He was devoted to God as a poet and musician, being the major figure behind the book of Psalms.  He was devoted to God as a benefactor, enabling Solomon to reign in unparalleled glory and peace.  But David was just a foreshadowing of Jesus, whose devotion greatly exceeded David’s.

We see Jesus as the person who is the ultimate fulfillment of these words: “A man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”  He who knew no sin was made to die on a cross for our sins, yet while suffering He uttered no threats and while being reviled He did not revile in return.  He didn’t surpass David’s example, however, that we might merely admire Him.  He did so that we might imitate Him.

As Jesus inspired this accolade from His Father (in typified form), let us see what kind of accolade our behavior might elicit from Jesus.  Oh, thanks be to God and praise be to God for His awe-inspiring example to us!

Isaiah 51:2

Like Abraham, Jesus was one when called.  Abraham was unique; Jesus was particularly unique.

Like Sarah to Abraham, the New Testament church was a bride to Christ.  As Sarah bore a child to Abraham in her old age, so the bride of Christ – in the old age of ancient Israel – birthed the kingdom of God from which would come myriad believers in manifold generations.  As Sarah suffered pain in the process, so the New Testament church endured persecution to the end…even dying in childbirth.

The story of Abraham and Sarah is a great one.  A man and a woman, both in advanced age and well past the normal time for child-bearing.  Miraculously, they give birth and from that one child comes forth nations.

Even so, the story of Christ is immeasurably greater!  He wasn’t just at an advanced age before He had a child – He had died!  Moreover, He had died unmarried!  Talk about being past the time for childbearing!  And His descendants are many more than Abraham’s.  Oh, the glory of the Lord and His works.  There is none like Him, yet the story of Abraham and Sarah (as do the rest of the stories in the Bible) gives us a way to begin to think about Him.

The New Testament Church Gave Its Life To Birth the Kingdom of God

We often think of the apostles as giving their testimony – that is, bearing witness – to what they had seen and heard of Jesus the Christ.  And we are right to do so.  We should also think, however, about those who believed them.  They, too, were bearing witness.  These New Testament believers were the jurors who believed the apostles’ testimony.  They heard the call of Jesus and responded.  For this reason we call them church, which comes from a Greek word meaning “called out.”

The apostles suffered persecution, but so did many of the New Testament believers.  Their collective witness strengthens our faith immeasurably.  We owe them all a debt.

The very documents we call the New Testament were born of the relationship between the apostles and those who believed the apostles’ testimony.  All lived for Christ at great peril to their fortunes, their honor, and their very lives.  It’s as if the New Testament pages we read were stained not just in Jesus’ blood (uniquely precious as it was) but also in the blood of the apostles and the saints they served.

This glorious New Testament church did not risk its collective life so that we could attend a worship service on Sunday instead of Saturday.  Nor did it lay down its life so that we could divide into tens of thousands of factions.  And it certainly did not lay down its life so that we could say that the kingdom’s coming which they saw as imminent has not yet occurred.  No, brothers and sisters, it did not lay down its life for any of these things.  Rather, it laid down its life to see the kingdom of God come to the earth in untold glory.  That kingdom is here now.  When we seek it and enter it, we honor their sacrifice.

Forsake the assembling of your separate Christian gatherings.  Run to the King.  And pray that those who have followed you to this point will follow you to Him.

Where is He?  He’s standing before you now.