WHO IS THIS MAN?
THE PROPHETIC AND HISTORICAL CHRIST
1 JOHN 1:1-10
GEORGE METHODIST CHURCH
SUNDAY 17TH NOVEMBER 2019
HE IS FROM THE BEGINNING
God is the First and the Last, nothing existed before God and nothing will exist after Him, He is it, the first and the last. In Revelation Jesus identifies Himself as, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Revelation 22:13.) The Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, in English it would be the A and the Z. There are no letters before A, and none after Z. Jesus is the first and last, the beginning, and the end.
How is it that both God the Father and Jesus can be the first and the last? This is only possible because Jesus is God. Remember what John 1:1 said, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Both are God, both are one being, one deity, even though they are individual.
1 John 1:1.
“Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” Phil 2:5-6.
Firstly, this confirms that Jesus existed before He became a human being.
Secondly, He existed in the form of God: Isaiah saw “the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew” (Is. 6:1-4). Since Jesus, before He became a human being, existed in the form of God, this could have been a vision of Jesus.
“Jesus Christ … emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7)
What did He empty Himself of?
Since Christ “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself,” we infer that He emptied Himself of “equality with God.” He also “emptied Himself” of “the form of God,” for He took on “the form of a bond-servant … being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).
He humbled Himself.
He performed many miracles, but only because “God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38). “Our Lord Jesus Christ … though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9). He voluntarily descended to the realm where He was “despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).
Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). Jesus therefore said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). That Jesus emptied Himself, when He became a human being, tells us what God is like; how much God loves His enemies. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).
In the Old Testament God would refer to Himself as simply “I Am” (Exodus 3:14). That in itself is an awesome statement – YHWH. Yod Heh Wav Heh. Not spoken by Jews (They will say Adonai or Elohim and other names that speak of God’s attributes) but spoken as Yahweh by Christians. Tentragammaton has more to it than we may see. The symbols of the letters are a hand – Yod, behold – hey, wav – nail, hey – behold and so it translates into “behold the hand behold the nail”. YHWH -Yod-Hey-V(W)av-Hey also means ‘I am that I am.’
I am -I am here. I always was. I always will be. I am the sound of the wind purring past your ears that reassures you that, no matter what you face, there is a reason for your existence, a purpose for which you are here, values that will guide you to do the best you can.
Jesus later when talking to the Jews told them ‘Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58).’ Jesus is not only saying that He existed since before His physical birth on earth, but He is identifying Himself as being God, as being the ‘I Am.’ Jesus again identified Himself as the ‘I am’ when He was being arrested in the garden. The soldiers asked if Jesus was “Jesus of Nazareth” and Jesus replied in such a way that the soldiers fell to the ground. “Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6)
JOHN ORTBERG – WHO IS THIS MAN?
Jesus as King of the Jews Emmanuel – God with US Isaiah 7:14
In the New Testament, the “King of the Jews” title is used only by the gentiles, namely by the Magi, Pontius Pilate, Roman soldiers. In contrast the Jewish leaders prefer the designation “King of Israel”, as in Matthew 27:42, Mark 15:32. But from Pilate’s perspective, it is the term “King” (regardless of Jews or Israel) that is sensitive, for it implies possible rebellion against the Roman Empire.
In the ancient world, all sympathies would have rested with Herod. He was nearer to the gods, guardian of the Pax Romana, adviser to Caesar. The definitive biography of him is called: Herod: King of the Jews, Friend of the Romans. The two phrases are connected: if Herod were not a friend of the Romans, he would not be king of the Jews. Jesus would be called “friend of sinners.” It was not a compliment. He would be arrested as an enemy of the Romans. Herod ruled in a time when only the ruthless survived. He cowered before no one. He had ten or eleven wives. He suspected the ambitions of the only one he ever truly loved, so he had her executed. He also had his mother-in-law, two of his brothers-in-law, and two of his own sons by his favourite wife executed. When his old barber tried to stick up for his sons, he had his barber executed. Caesar remarked that (given the Jewish refusal to eat pork) it was better to be Herod’s pig than his son. Herod rewarded his friends and punished his enemies, the sign of a great-souled man in his day.
Jesus, when He was a man, would be nearly as silent and passive before Herod’s successor as He was when He was a baby before Herod. Herod clung to his title to the end. While he was dying, he had a group of protestors arrested, the ringleaders burned alive, and the rest executed. Five days before his death, he had another son executed for trying to grab power prematurely. His will instructed scores of prominent Israelites be executed on the day he died so there would be weeping in Israel. Herod was considered by Rome the most effective ruler over Israel the empire ever had. No one would bear that title “King of the Jews” again, except for a crucifixion victim impaled for a few hours one Friday afternoon.
The lives of Herod and Jesus intersected when magi from the East asked where they could find the one born (notice the title) “king of the Jews.” Herod claimed to follow the religion of Israel, but it was the pagan magi who sought truth with respect and humility. There is something about this Jesus, even on His first day that had a way of forcing people to declare where they stand. “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed” (major understatement here), “… and all Jerusalem with him.” Now it’s clear why. Herod “was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under … Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’”
No one called Jesus “the Great.” Jesus is repeatedly given a different title by Matthew: “‘Go and search carefully for the child’ … the place where the child was … they saw the child with his mother … ‘take the child … and escape to Egypt’ … ‘take the child … and go to the land of Israel’ … so he got up, took the child.” The title “child,” especially in that day, would be a vivid contrast with “king” or “great.” In the ancient, status-ordered world, children were at the bottom of the ladder. In both Greek and Latin, the words for children meant “not speaking’; children lacked the dignity of reason.
The next season of Jesus’ life is introduced with the phrase “After Herod died….” In fact, three times in chapter 2 alone, Matthew mentions the fact that Herod is dead. Matthew wants the reader to know: Herod the Great, with all his wealth, glory, power, and crown, is now Herod the Dead. Herod died. This is a subtle reminder of a great leveler. Who else is going to die?
Ortberg, John. Who Is This Man? (pp. 24-25). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
Jesus is the Creator but also Incarnate
When God is creating man He says “Then God said, “Let Us make humans in Our image, according to Our likeness;” (Genesis 1:26). Who is God talking to here? Who is God referring to by saying “Us” and “Our”? God is not a single being but three, completely separate beings, three deities that are the same. The Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). This is an example of how Jesus did exist in the beginning.
Not only was Jesus with God in the beginning, before creation, but Jesus is the Creator. John 1:3 says “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Jesus did not come to die for His Father’s creation, but His own. Isn’t this amazing? Jesus knew what He would have to go through, He knew all of the suffering He would face before He created us, yet He still choose to do so!
The incarnation implies three facts: (1) The Divine Person of Jesus Christ; (2) The Human Nature of Jesus Christ; (3) The Hypostatic Union of the Human with the Divine Nature in the Divine Person of Jesus Christ. Without diminishing His divinity, He added to it all that is involved in being human. In Christian belief it is understood that Jesus was at the same time both fully God and fully human, two natures in one person. The body of Christ was therefore subject to all the bodily weaknesses to which human nature is universally subject; such are hunger (Matthew.4:2), thirst (John 19:28), fatigue (John 4:6), pain, and death. They were the natural results of the human nature He assumed.
The Incarnation of Jesus is also one of the key factors which, alongside humans made in image and likeness of God, forms Christian Anthropology.
- How do you understand the Godhead three in One?
- What is the revelation of the Word YHWH as ‘behold the hand behold the nail’ helped you to understand God?
- How do you see Herod’s response to Jesus and the challenges that He faced?
- Jesus, as the Incarnate, faces all the human pains that we experience and knows us as fully God and fully man – How do feel about this?