When people, that do not have faith, wrestle with the concept of God, they usually convince themselves that they are doing okay, that is, until they stumble over an immovable object in their path; Jesus Christ.
Until Jesus came, people could talk about God in purely abstract terms, as did philosophers, as did the scientist, as did even ancient, classical theologians. God was for many a force, a presence, an influence, and always nebulous, out of reach and, by prevailing standards, un-provable.
Unanswered questioned proliferated. Has anyone seen God? What does he look like? Ask God to come and see us, and explain some things to us, and we will be convinced.
Have you spoken to anyone who has seen God?
Impossible questions all.
No, Moses did not see Him, certainly not face to face; although a case could be made that he saw a part of God as recorded in Exodus 33:23.
No, Enoch did not see Him, although Enoch had close communion with him, much like Adam did in the Garden, and as recorded in Genesis 5:24.
No, Elijah did not see Him either, although he was translated that he should not see death as recorded in Hebrews 11:5. It can be shown that both Enoch and Elijah went not to the Sanctum Santorum, where God's throne is, but to Paradise as identified by Jesus in Luke 23:43.
None of these good and Holy men saw God face to face, because the Bible makes it clear that, "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (John 1:18)
So with Jesus' arrival, God was no more a vague concept, but a concrete, provable reality. Jesus declared he came from God, saw God, dwelt there with Almighty God and can declare him. This was not hearsay, this was not a legend, and neither was it anecdotal; this was real evidence, the likes of which would be accepted in any just court on earth.
And in case the sceptics were unconvinced by commonplace discourse, He showed them by awesome deeds, that He was, whom He said He was.
He raised the dead back to life and they were witnesses John 11:43-44
He walked on water, and they were witnesses John 6:19
He calmed the raging storm, and they were witnesses Mark 4:37-39
He healed all manner of diseases, and they were witnesses Matthew 8:16
He turned water into wine, and they were witnesses John 2:7-11
He took five loaves and two small fishes and fed over five thousand, and they were witnesses Luke 9:16-17
And when he spoke, even his most implacable foes acknowledged that he was no ordinary man as shown here, "The officers answered, Never man spake like this man." (John 7:46)
Jesus Christ, in a mystical union scarcely understood by humans, came to earth as the God-Man combination, known to theologians as "hypostasis", and demonstrated that God was here, with us, intimately, working with us, among us, encouraging, blessing and motivating us to do that which is pleasing in his sight.
While here on earth, during a spectacular three and one half year ministry, Jesus established a reputation for being astute, and utterly sinless.
Even his enemies, that wanted to destroy him, had to concede that Jesus was faultless, and when their accusations were presented to Pilate, the conclusion was staggering, "And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him." (Luke 23:13-14)
Jesus was living in a cauldron of hate, and persecution, and threats of imminent death, and yet transcended all that, to open the eyes of the world, to who he really was:
The only perfect human being by any measure.
The most powerful human being ever to walk this earth.
The greatest human example for all eternity.
Jesus Christ is the greatest human example for all eternity, not for the world at large, who does not appreciate him, but to believers everywhere who value his enormous contribution to their salvation, and to our walk with God, and of his mediation with Almighty God on our behalf.
It is true that we have many wonderful examples of persevering saints, that have gladdened our hearts, and lifted our spirits, and quicken our faltering steps, but absolutely none can be compared with the matchless Jesus. When all else fails and we are at the point of surrender, we are about to be overwhelmed, then it is with Jesus, and him alone that our weary soul seeks the ultimate fortification.
Here is how the Bible puts it: "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." (Hebrews 12:3)
It is only by considering Jesus, and his travails, and strictly following his example that we triumph over adversity.
We talk about overcoming, being triumphant, and being more than conquerors, but less we forget it is always, "...through him that loved us." (Romans 8:37)
Here is an extremely clever move on the part of Jesus, a move so perceptive and far reaching that, in truth, even Bible scholars have not fully grasped this point.
Remember that when Jesus died on Calvary's cross, there was no New Testament, nothing had been written for believers' edification. The only scriptures available to His disciples at that time was the Jewish Bible, i.e., the Old Testament.
And yet the Church of Jesus Christ was to be built on Jesus, and non-existent Apostolic doctrines; doctrines that were to become Scripture, Holy Writ, but they did not exist during Jesus' ministry. The Bible asserts this truism thus:
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." (Ephesians 2:19-20)
Here is pure genius, the clever bit that can so easily escape notice.
Jesus had to find a way to authenticate what the Apostles would later do, and he did so most brilliantly by Satan's intervention, at the commencement of His earthly ministry.
For forty days and forty nights Jesus was bombarded with temptations from Satan, but we don't know what those temptations were. Suddenly at the end of the forty days Satan appeared physically, and the Bible recorded the interchange.
Because Jesus was setting the scene for the authentication of Apostolic doctrine that was to be the foundation, along with Jesus and the prophets, of the new church.
There can be no higher endorsement of anything, no greater verification or validation than that which comes from Deity.
When Satan threw these final three mighty temptations at Jesus Christ; turn these stones to bread, fall down and worship me, and throw yourself down from this steeple and let God save you, Jesus majestically and completely snuffed them out by quoting the Bible thus:
"It is written..." Matthew 4: 4
"It is written..." Matthew 4: 7
"It is written..." Matthew 4: 10
To all believers today this is enormously comforting, empowering and edifying. Nothing can arise today, contrary to God's will, that cannot be rebutted by the Bible. Not anything now and not anything in the future. Even Jesus Christ himself, with all the awesome tools available at his command, was happy to let the Bible do battle for him. And notice the remarkable result, "Then the devil leaveth him..." (Matthew 4:11).
Too sweet! This Jesus is mighty clever, don't you think?
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013