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Over the centuries Jesus has been known by different names, and has meant different things to a variety of people, but the one factor always constant is that Jesus Christ has been, is, and will be the Saviour of mankind. Let us consider these various aspects of God's son.
1. CHRIST....The Messiah:
When Moses described in Genesis the failure of Adam and Eve to obey God, man was told that he would die. However the sentence was tempered with a promise that one would come who would overcome the power of death and be the saviour of all mankind. (Gen 3:15)
God promised Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation and that through his seed would all nations of the earth be blessed. As Paul later pointed out it was clear that the promise was through a seed (singular), and that this referred to Jesus Christ who was a direct descendant of Abraham, and who was the one through whom all nations of the earth will be blessed. (Gen 22:18)
David the King of Israel was given a promise that after his death, his son would build a Temple for God and rule for ever. Although David's son, Solomon, fulfilled this in part in that he built a wonderful Temple and was a great ruler, he did not rule for ever. Often God's predictions are fulfilled initially in part and completely at a later time. The fulfilment of this promise is still to come when Christ returns to the earth to set up his kingdom.
In writing his songs of praise David often spoke of his greater Son who would come as the long awaited Messiah. 'Let the whole earth be filled with his glory for ever' (Psalm 72:19)
The prophets frequently referred to the coming of the Messiah but some of the passages in Isaiah (in particular) written so long before Jesus' birth, describe in exquisite detail the life that Jesus would live and the manner of his treatment by the authorities of the day, (see Isaiah 53).
2. Christ the Man
However, Jesus was not the type of person the Jews expected to be their Messiah.
Jesus lived an ordinary life for 30 years of His short life. He lived and worked in a family atmosphere and was not looked upon as a religious leader or even a learned man. The result was his way of life contrasted with the strict ritualistic lives of the ruling Jewish leaders who Christ declared to be hypocrites.
They loved to look religious, and to be regarded as such, but their thoughts were far from God.
In contrast Jesus was a normal person 'in all points like as we are except without sin'. His simple life is an example for all who follow him.
Unfortunately today those who believe that Jesus was divine (part of a Trinity), lose this most important aspect of God's plan of salvation - that God gave us His Son as an example for us so that we could appreciate how we should live our lives to be worthy of salvation. We are asked to follow the example of a man not a God!
It is interesting to note that, in spite of the Jewish religious leaders having so much Scripture pointing to the Messiah and which described his life in detail, they not only shunned their Messiah completely but they eventually demanded He be put to death! It is not surprising then, that Jesus chose ordinary people, as his close friends and disciples, men and women who were not religious leaders, but usually simple fishermen and workers.
Jesus avoided involved religious argument and always gave simple answers to complex problems. His solutions have proved timeless. His classic answer to the question of whether it is right for religious people to pay tax to the state is a case in point. We should pay to the authorities of our country what is due to them but we must also give to God the love and service due to Him. This is just as true today.
His self searching principle of punishing a person who has clearly sinned by inviting the one amongst their accusers, who is without sin, to cast the first stone, has become a widely accepted tempering factor in criticism. A recent historical novel about apartheid in South Africa was simply titled 'Cast The First Stone...(by Bryce Courtnay).
Jesus showed the weakness of the law, that a literal interpretation of words without taking note of the spirit of the law, destroys the objective of any legal system. It was in his day and it is still the case today, when much money is spent attempting to reinterpret laws to suit some. The Law of Moses was misconstrued in the same way.
3. Christ the founder
The Christian philosophy was that rigid law was replaced with example and common sense. Christ did not replace the Law of Moses with the 'Law of Christ'. In fact he reduced the Law of Moses down to the principles that we should 'Love God with all our hearts and love our neighbours as our selves.'
The only law that Jesus recorded just before his death was given to his disciples suggesting, 'that they love one another'.
Neither did He introduce new religious observances except for the simple feast of remembrance observed on the night before he was crucified. On that occasion he had a meal with his disciples and asked that they, and those who followed, remember Him when they eat bread and drink wine.
Unfortunately many today associate the bread with a broken and dead body and worship idols of dead bodies nailed to a cross.
Christ wanted us to remember by the bread, not only the sacrifice of His body, but his life that was lived as a wonderful example for us all.
The wine was to remember the other aspect, that his death represented the perfect sacrifice, the shed blood sealing the new covenant with God. A new basis of salvation for all mankind.
Jesus appealed to common people and his simple messages won their hearts. There were few of the religious leaders of the day that befriended him and he openly criticised the others as hypocrites
Those who followed Jesus and became Christians came to be regarded in a very special way. As Paul later put it, those who were baptised into Christ became Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.
This is the high calling to which the followers of Christ are called and our high priest is Christ 'consecrated or perfected for evermore' (Hebrews 7:25-28).
4. Christ in the World today
Although Christianity has become known throughout the world, it is fragmented into many sects. Men have introduced laws and regulations which Christ never advocated.
A Christian's objective is to live a new life in Christ based on His example, which demonstrated that we can live and work in the world and yet not be affected by any evil we encounter. As Jesus put in his prayer in John 17, he wanted us to be part of the world but not affected by its evil (John 17:14-17)
Love for God and love for those around is to be the guiding Christian attribute and yet there is the sad evidence that many Christians hate each other, and on many occasions have been prepared to kill each other.
Christianity is based on sound principles and has the answers for a world in distress but Governments will not succeed until entirely guided by Christian principles. The world needs Christ.
5. Christ the King:
Perfection is in the future when He will come again to set up His Kingdom on the earth. That he will come back to the earth is the simple message given in Acts 1:11.
At the last supper Jesus said that he would not drink again until he drank the wine 'new with you' (Mat 26:29) in the Kingdom. New wine is usually not highly regarded, so what did he mean?
Another translation of this passage indicates that he was promising not new wine but a wine of a 'new type' which supports the interesting thought that Jesus was indicating the promise of a completely new relationship with Him, with God, and with the other members of the Kingdom.
It points to a completely changed relationship, in the new Jerusalem, which comes from God. Here the Israel of God gather with Jesus Christ ruling over the world in a wonderful, new, and fair way not experienced in the world today.
The promise of Christ has been since the beginning of time. God's plan of salvation has developed but always with Christ in view.
We still wait for the final consummation but this we know.... the only way given under heaven by which we can have salvation is through Jesus Christ the Son of God.
6. A Message from the Angels:
What a wonderful assurance we have of the second coming of the Lord Jesus, in Acts 1:11......."This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." So few, in our day and age, believe in the actual bodily return of the Lord Jesus, yet this passage of Scripture is so positive it screams out to be accepted in the simplicity in which it is offered.
Those gathered together watched in awe, as Jesus rose into the air and "a cloud received him out of their sight". Revelation 1:7 tells us that the promise for the future is that "every eye shall see him.".
There is nothing secretive about His coming for Zechariah tells us that the Mount of Olives will split in two.
7. A Message from Jesus:
Probably the most authoritative message regarding His second coming, must come from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself.
Read then His own message in Matthew 25:31....."When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he SIT UPON THE THRONE OF HIS GLORY".
Jesus thus confirms His own second coming and confirms that He will sit on a "throne", and that throne will be the throne of David, of which we read in 2 Samuel 7:13, a throne which was and will be again, in Jerusalem.
"He shall build an house for my name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom....FOR EVER.....I WILL BE HIS FATHER AND HE SHALL BE MY SON".
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