Jesus, God Who became Man (Part 4)

We would like to publish some articles about the person and characteristics of Jesus as man. He is fully God and fully man. It can be a support in pastoral care, when confidents explore the perfect life of Jesus as Man and Lord for God does not remain abstract, but is also recognizable in the soul, the personality of Jesus. In this study, for example, the difference with Buddha and Confucius is also shown.

Of course Jesus can only be known by the Holy Spirit and through the spiritual laws and ordinances, as they are also expressed in the Bible. 

He is the God, Who became man, the image of God the invisible One. 

Or as the letter to the Hebrews (1:1-3a) tells us: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” 

Jesus and the Bible

What we call "the Old Testament" was for Jesus the Bible. He lived in the Old Testament history. In His teaching He referred to Cain, Abel, Noah, the Flood, Abraham, Lot, Elijah, Naaman, Jonah, Zechariah, and many more (Mat. 6:29; 12:3 ff., 40.42; 23:35; Luke 4:25,27; 17: 26.29; John 8:40). Old Testament prayers and groans were spoken by Him in Gethsemane and on the cross (Ps. 43:5 (Mat. 26:38); Ps. 6:4, 42: 6 (John 12:27); Ps. 22:2 (Mat. 27:46); Ps. 31:6 (Luke 23:46)). Jesus was familiar with every letter of the Bible, even the smallest details, and in a way we can hardly imagine. This is reflected, among other things, in the many references He often made, which proved that He lived in the world of the Old Testament. We see this when He speaks in John 18:11; Mat 26:39 about drinking the cup (see Isaiah 51:17); about the crying out of the stones in Luke 19:40 (see Hab 2:11); about condemning the evildoers in Mat. 7:23 (see Ps. 6:9) or about considering the ravens in Luke 12:24 (see Ps. 147:9) or about the desolation of one’s house in Mat. 23:38 (see Ps. 69:26; Jer. 22:5); or about the attitude of the people of Israel toward Him in Mat. 23:39 (see Ps. 118:26); about people commanding the mountains to cover them in Luke 23:30 (see Hos. 10:8); or about people trampling on snakes and scorpions in Luke 10:19 (see Ps. 91:13). Furthermore, in Luke 8:10 He speaks about those who can see but never perceive (see Isaiah 6:9 ff) or about whether Capernaum will be lifted to Heaven in Luke 10:15 (see Isaiah 14:13 ff); about a son being divided against his father in Luke 12:53 (see Micah 7:6) or about one kingdom rising against another one in Luke 21:10 (see Isaiah 19:2). In many other places Jesus has shown an inexhaustible knowledge of the Bible through allusions, views and expressions. However, getting familiar with the Bible in this way is not as easy as in our time where the Bible is freely and digitally accessible. Only in the synagogue He could get access to the scrolls to read them. We read a lot about Jesus being alone, but never about being alone to read. Therefore the Bible study must have mainly taken place before He entered the public domain. Then, after sowing and fighting, Jesus must have lived above all by the word that He acquired before from His memory. 

Nowadays people speak rather disparagingly of learning by heart, but Jesus must have learned a lot by heart and practiced His memory in order to be able to use it again in the lonely days of temptation in the wilderness or in the turbulent time and battle in Jerusalem. Not least in His last days and hours, right up to the cross! It was a treasure that He collected in the good days, which served Him in difficult days as bread, water, shield and sword. Jesus' position in relation to the Bible was completely different from that of the Jews before that time. 

For the Palestinian Jews, the Bible was a collection of valid statements, which had to be implemented by educated rabbis. For the Alexandrian Jews, the Bible was a collection of secret knowledge, into which they could insert their own philosophy. Jesus found God in the Bible, and when He read the Bible, He communicated with His Father. 

For Jesus, the Bible was 'food' on a daily basis. He lived from every word. He read the Bible with great attention, certainly because of the testimony of God about Himself. He knew that He owed much of His knowledge to this book, because the will of God was revealed in it, and that God had spoken to Him many times through this book. That's why he had great respect for the Bible. In addition to prayer, the Bible was the element of His spiritual life, from which streams of life originated. He continually nourished His thinking and emotions with it and experienced the fellowship with God. He heard and asked (Lk. 2:46) already in His childhood about obtaining information concerning His Father. He had direct insight (not via other people). His scriptural explanation is simple and clear, though infinitely profound (Mk 12:26 ff). He had never read something in the Bible that is repellent to Him, for He knew the power of God and also knew how to use it in the explanations that He gave Mk 12:24). He also knew the hardness of the heart that makes it difficult for men to accept the Scripture as the Word of God (Mat. 19:8). The Bible was for Him a sword and shield against Satan (Mat. 4:4,6, 10) ánd against men. His faith rested in “It is written”. It was the light onto His path. Above all, the Bible has comforted him. Can we really imagine how much strength and encouragement Jesus drew from this?

For example, from the text of Isa.52:13 to Isa.53:12. No one is allowed to misuse one single word. Jesus never did. He drew His knowledge and strength and consolation from the Word; For Him it had to be finished as it is written (Matt. 26:54,56). The fact that Jesus had read His Bible in His "good" days comforted Him in the "evil" days.

Jesus is the fulfilment of the Scripture

The relationship of Jesus with the Bible was unique in two ways. First of all, Jesus knew that He Himself was the purpose of the Scripture (Lk. 24:27, 44; Jn 5:39, 46). He knew this already in the synagogue of Nazareth (Lk. 4:21). When He made preparations for His ‘royal’ entry in Jerusalem on the colt of a mule, He knew that Zechariah had spoken of Him (Zech.9:9). By the image that Isaiah had written about Him, the people had to be able to recognize Him (Mat. 11:5; Isa. 35:5 ff). And at places where it was not possible to write it literally, there are numerous examples and types in the Bible that had to be fulfilled in Him. Among these types are very special ones such as Joseph in comparison with Jesus. Joseph was sold by Judah for twenty shekels of silver to tradesmen, so he could be sold ‘at a profit’ in Egypt for thirty shekels of silver (Gen. 37:26 ff). Judas ‘sold’ Jesus for thirty shekels of silver (Mat. 26:16).

No one has ever read the Bible the way Jesus did. He knew that it was all about Him. He found Himself in the Bible, in the law, in the prophets and in the Psalms, for example as ‘a corner stone’ (Ps. 118:22). He often delivered the scriptural evidence to friend and enemy about who He Himself was. In the Old Testament it is hidden in many places that there is a God, who was going to redeem His people Himself (Mat. 11:10, cf. Mal. 3:1; Mat. 11:14, cf. Mal. 4:5,6; Mat. 21:16, cf. Ps. 8:3). However, there is another significant reason why Jesus was different from every other person in His relationship with the Bible. He Himself was somebody who shaped the Scripture, preached and developed it in new forms and even brought it to fulfilment. From Him flowed an independent source of knowledge and exactly for this reason He had the key to the real understanding of the Bible. Those who heard Him speak, had the impression that He spoke differently: namely as one having authority (Mat. 7:29; Jn. 7:46). For example, He counteracted the Old commandments with a definite “But I say to you” (Mat. 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44) or by saying: “I came to fulfil them” (Mat. 5:17). He boldly deviated from what the prophet asked about commanding fire to come down from heaven (Lk. 9:54) and He criticized Lamech’s statement: I shall be avenged seventy –sevenfold (Gen. 4:24; Mat. 18:22).

Jesus as a Scribe

People expected Elijah; He mentioned John the Baptist as His Elijah, who was killed by men (Mk. 9:13). He applied the description of the Messiah as a shepherd to Himself, but He gave a totally new substance to that description by adding the surrender of life to it (Eze. 34:23; Jn. 10:11, 15, 17, 18). He honored the Scripture but dealt freely and independently with them as God’s direct representative alone is allowed to do. He knew how to develop the Bible in its statements. Also in this respect He showed up as Lord of the Scripture, who dealt with it in whatever way He wanted. He left unmentioned what he wanted to leave unmentioned (Ex. 30:13; Mat. 17:27). He used whatever He needed for the preaching. Sometimes He stated Scripture next to Scripture (Mat. 4:6, 7). He also explained Scripture with Scripture. He chose special portions from it. The Bible gave Him many examples to describe the Messiah, for example in Isa.60. And in1 Kgs. 17:13 a miracle for one’s own sustenance and for one’s own protection. He took the liberty to use the Scripture for His purpose. For example by leaving out verse 4 from Isa.4-6 to substantiate His healings and Isa. 61:1, 2 to substantiate His preaching. And then the awesome merging of Dan.7:13 (The Son of men on the clouds in heaven) with Isa. 53, the suffering Servant of the Lord. It is difficult to imagine the extent to which the Scripture has shaped the thoughts of Jesus and the extent to which it was His source of knowledge. We often have the impression that He approached the Bible with a great asset of His own knowledge. After all, He would be able to expose the ‘golden veins’ of the Bible, that formerly remained hidden (Mat. 4:4, Mk 12:26). At the Sabbath issue (Matt. 12:7) He quoted Hosea 6:6 and further on about David who was hungry and the priests in service (Mat. 12:3,5) and derived from the works of His Father His own beneficial works by not disturbing the Sabbath rest (Jn. 5:17). In all things He has shown the He was the One that was promised by the ancestors (Num. 21:8, 9; Jn. 3:14; Jonah 1:17; Mat. 12:40, Ps. 110 and Mat. 22:42 ff). 

Gerard Feller

(Excerpts from: ‘De Christus der Schriften, de Here der Heerlijkheid’ (‘The Christ of the Scriptures and the Lord of glory’) by Otto Borchert, 1924)

Translated by Ursula Moestapa

 

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