From Glory To Glory
3. The Savior Has Come
God Becomes Man
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:1+14; NKJ)
Then the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. ... The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (Lk. 1:30-35; NKJ)
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and ... said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Lk. 2:8-11; NKJ)
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Lk. 2:52; NKJ)
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman ...” (Gal. 4:4)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, 'This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (Jn.1:1.4.14-17)
Just as it would later on be said to born-again people that they had been “born again not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1Pet. 1:23; NKJ), thus also Jesus was not born of corruptible seed (the seed of man), “but [of] incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (ib.) – formed by all the prophecies about the life of Jesus that were spoken by God’s prophets and written down as the Word of God.
Because Jesus was not conceived by the seed of a man, He was without sin. Even though He had received His physical body from the virgin Mary, He had received His life – His spirit – directly from God (Lk. 1:26-35; Jn. 5:26; 6:63). In Jesus, God had become man, so that He could accomplish the salvation of mankind. He didn’t stop being God during His life here on earth, but He didn’t function as God; He set these abilities aside and lived totally as a man while here on earth. (A short paper can be found here, showing that Jesus has been completely God as well as completely man.)
“who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”(Phil.2:6-8; NKJ)
This total setting aside of His divine abilities here on earth is important – significant – because Jesus came not to disempower the devil like superman and then leave us behind with our mouths agape, marveling. – No! – Jesus became a man, a man exactly as God had created man at the beginning of human history (that is, as gods of this world, cf. Ps. 82:6; the explanations you can review here). He had a human body (Jn. 2:21; Ps. 22:17-18), a human soul (Mt. 26:38; Lk. 22:44) and a human spirit– yet free from any sin, perfect and holy (Mk.2:8; 8:12; 2Cor. 5:21; 1Jn. 3:5). Jesus was born into this world as a helpless babe, went through the normal process of growing and maturing (Lk. 2:40,52), before He started His public ministry at the age of about 30.
He set aside the use His divine abilities and set us humans an example in His way of living in as much as He actually lived the kind of life for which God had created man – a life in total dependence on and fellowship with the Father. Jesus was teaching us through His life how God’s children would live up to this name; how they would live according to the purpose of their creation:
“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (Jn. 5:19; KJV)
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (Jn. 14:12; KJV)
“Verily, verily …” – by using this phrase Jesus used to point out important truths: “Folks, listen closely – I REALLY mean what I am saying!”
And there was yet another example that Jesus set before us: He had a perfect sinless spirit on the inside, but before He began His public ministry, He (even He) received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (how much more should we follow His example!):
Having Received Power
When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’ Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age ... (Lk. 3:21-23; NKJ)
And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.n. (Mt. 7:28f.; NKJ)
Remarkable about Jesus’ baptism is also the following:
“When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’ Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age ...“ (Lk. 3:21-23; NKJ)
Here we have Jesus – the man Jesus, with His own spirit, (He wouldn’t have been able to live without it, cf. Jn. 6:63; Jam. 2:26), the Father’s voice from heaven and the Holy Spirit (in bodily form like a dove). – This means firstly: The perfect sinless spirit on the inside of the man Jesus is NOT the Holy Spirit (i.e. the 3rd person of the godhead)! And this means secondly: The perfect man Jesus did need the baptism in the Holy Spirit for His ministry here on earth! – How much more do we born-again people need this baptism and this help!
“Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil.” (Lk. 4:1f.; NKJ)
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38; NKJ)
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus now began the battle against the devil. He was not acting as God, but as a man – anointed by God with the Holy Spirit!
(As a reminder: God had given the dominion here on earth to physical human beings. When man allowed himself to be cheated by the devil, man had yielded his authority to the devil – who still needed to operate through physical bodies. So, it had to be a man with a physical body to outwit the devil and take this power back again. God had to become man to commit the necessary authority to Himself – “and [He] has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” - Jn. 5:27; NKJ).
To begin with, Jesus fought the devil by teaching people the truth about themselves and about God (Mt. 7:28f.; Mk. 7:13ff.; Jn. 3), and by living a righteous life, and being the only person who ever kept the whole Mosaic law and thereby procured a righteousness that He could pass on to us (Mt. 5:17-20; Ro. 2:13; 3:19-26; 5:17-19; 8:10; 2Cor. 5:21). But before He could give us His righteousness (by which we would receive access to God’s grace, cf. Ro. 5:21), He had to get sin and the related results (punishment) out of the way. He did this by taking our sin and our punishment into Himself.
The Great Exchange
He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. (Isa. 53:2-8; NKJ)
Picture 5 doesn’t totally conform to the traditional portrayal of Jesus’ substitutionary death for us. The intent of this somewhat different portrayal is to point out the following: As inconceivably cruel and brutal His suffering and death at the cross definitely had been, still we can never begin to really understand and appreciate the events around the cross as long as we consider only the physical aspects. Hebr. 11:3 tells us that the visible world came out of the invisible, or that the invisible precedes the visible. Only if something is anchored in the spiritual world, it can take shape also in the physical realm at some point. And thus, the victory Jesus obtained for us has to be seen above all on the spiritual plane.
The event described by the prophet Isaiah in chapter 53 was to take place not until 700 years later. And so he was talking in a spiritual view about Jesus on the day of His crucifixion. But he didn’t see what the people present about 700 years later would see with their physical eyes, but he states what would happen in the spiritual world. We can see this also from the fact that the Gospels don’t say anything about Jesus ever having been suffering or His countenance being repulsive. The contrary was the case (cf. Lk. 2:52). Isaiah conveys a spiritual vision, and he describes what Jesus took into His spirit, into the center of His life – and not only while hanging on the cross, but already before, when He took silently the 39 scourging blows of the Roman soldiers. These blows alone were so brutal that they were able to kill a man. But Isaiah didn’t see the scourging Romans – he said: “we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isa. 53:4; NKJ). With every blow that the Romans delivered, God was hitting His Son as well – filling His spirit with our sickness and pain. (As a reminder: it is the spirit that gives life to man [Jn. 6:63; Jam. 2:26], sin brought death into our spirit, and only from there also into our soul and body.)
Eventually, Jesus was nailed to the cross for us – “pierced” – and our punishment was on Him (Isa. 53:5); God put the iniquity of us all on Him (Isa. 53:6); He suffered our oppression and judgment (Isa. 53:8). God made His Son, who knew no sin, to be sin for us (2Cor. 5:21) and put all iniquity and punishment on Him – Jesus took all effects of sin (anything that sin could ever do to us sinful people) into His spirit … and into His soul ... and into His body. – His precious blood, which was poured out for us on this day, is the picture and the proof of the fact, that on this day He gave His life as the propitiation for the sin of the whole world (Exo. 12:3-23; Jn. 6:53; 1Cor.11:25f.; Eph. 1:7; 1.Jn. 2:2; Hebr. 9:14). Through His substitutionary death on all levels of life, He obtained an eternal redemption for our spirit (this redemption is effective the moment we accept Jesus as our Savior, cf. 2Cor. 5:17), as well as for our soul and body (this we will experience in its completeness only in heaven, cf. Ro. 8:18-23).
He did this for us, and He did it by His own choice:
He became sin for us
“By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isa. 53:11f.; NKJ)
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us ...” (2Cor. 5:21; NKJ)
“who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree ...” (1Pet. 2:24; NKJ)
He bore our punishment
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him...” (Isa. 53:4f.; NIV)
He bore our curse
“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deut. 21:22f. ; NKJ)
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’).” (Gal. 3:13; NKJ)
He bore our shame
“And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men ...” (Isa. 53:2f.; NKJ)
“All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” (Ps. 22:7,8; KJV)
He bore our sickness and pain
“Surely our sicknesses he hath borne, and our pains -- he hath carried them, … by his bruise there is healing to us.” (Isa. 53:4f.; YLT)
“…And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.’”(Mt. 8:16f.; NKJ)
He bore our death
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebr. 2:14; NKJ)
He bore our poverty
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor ...” (2Cor.8:9; NKJ)
He bore our rejection
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ … And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.” (Mt. 27:46,50; NKJ)
He was cut off for us
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living …” (Isa.53:7f.; NAS)
“I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength: Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves.” (Ps. 88:4-7; KJV)
Resurrected to a New Life
Picture 6: Raised from the dead
I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Ps. 16:8-11; KJV)
Jesus died our death. He was made sin for us and took our punishment into Himself. – But He didn’t stay dead! – He shook Himself (don’t worry, I will explain this offhand statement in a moment), nailed our bill of indictment on the cross, and rose again to newness of life. – Now the way was clear so that He could give us His righteousness. Hallelujah!
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:14f.; KJV)
The picture that was used in the letter to the Colossians reflects a standard practice of the Romans. After they had won a battle, they stripped their enemies of everything valuable, i.e. they spoiled them. They cut off the thumbs and big toes of their enemy‘s leaders and drag them in a triumphal procession through the streets of Rome. Thus they demonstrated to the Roman people that this opponent didn’t pose a threat any longer. – Likewise, Jesus spoiled the devil of all power and paraded him openly.
But who did raise Jesus from the dead? Some passages of Scripture let us assume that Jesus had done it Himself (Jn. 2:19-21; 10:17f.), but the majority of Bible verses point to the Father (e.g. Acts 2:24,32; 4:10; 13:30; Ro. 8:11; 9:10; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:20). The answer is probably that it was indeed God, the Father, who raised Jesus against all resistance of the devil and his demons, but that the cooperation of Jesus was vitally important, too. – This cooperation of Father and Son is also indicated in Psalm 16:
“For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:10f.; KJV)
And this thought is also endorsed by this verse, if viewed from the right perspective:
„Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.“ (Ro. 6:4; KJV)
The Greek word for glory – “doxa” – doesn’t mean only “splendor, brightness, majesty,” but very often it carries the acceptation of “honor, view, a good opinion concerning one” We can see this very clearly in Jesus‘ prayer in Jn. 17, when He prayed for Himself, for the disciples present, and then also for believers who would come later – that is, for us today.
“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. … Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (Jn. 17:4-5,20-23; KJV)
In verses 20-23, Jesus prayed for us, and by this prayer we can know that the Father loves us present-day believers exactly as He loves Jesus – that He has the same high opinion of us (=glory) that He has of Jesus! … The verses 4-5 are part of the things that Jesus prayed for Himself – just a short time before He would become our substitute on the cross and in death. He was quasi saying to the Father: “When I will have hit rock bottom, when I will be shattered, having suffered through the separation from You (even though until now I’ve never ever been separated from Your love!), when I will have completely identified with sin, the shame and the curse that is over mankind – then, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was! – Build Me up again with your high opinion of Me and with Your approval, so that I can raise again and complete the work for which You did send Me into the world.”
This is the reason why I wrote earlier that Jesus shook Himself in the grave and rose again to newness of life. – After the Father had instilled into Jesus His love, honor, approval and extremely high opinion of Him and thus had strengthened Him, Jesus remembered that He was made sin only for a little while; so He stood up, nailed our bill of indictment on the cross, and completed His work of salvation.
“And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” (Acts 13:32f., KJV, cf. Ps. 2:7)
This phrase “this day have I begotten thee” points to the absolute singularity of this happening – as we know that Jesus (A) has been living forever (e.g. Jn. 8:58; 17:5) and (B) had been God’s Son already prior to His resurrection (e.g. Mk. 1:11; 9:7). Let’s look also at the following verses:
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Col. 1:18; NKJ)
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Ro. 8:29; NKJ)
“The firstborn from the dead” – hmm, there are several dead that come to mind who were raised back to life prior to Jesus’ resurrection, some of them were even raised by Jesus personally (like Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter , the young man from Nain, Elijah had also raised a boy back to life). So this cannot be what we are dealing with here. – No! The absolute novelty this is talking about is the resurrection from the spiritually dead! All the people who had been brought back to life before, had been raised with the same dead spirit (i.e. a spirit separated from God) which we all have inherited from Adam and Eva. – Jesus has become sin for us, i.e. He died our death, but He was the first one who was resurrected from this spiritual death; He was raised with a living spirit (i.e. one with God’s spirit) – that He might be the firstborn among many brethren! – so that all who believe in Him might experience the same resurrection from the dead – in the new birth. Hallelujah!
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death [not in a physical sense but spiritually, through faith]: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Ro. 6:4; KJV)
By the way, when we read in Ro. 8:29 that God predestined people, then we can also read, what He predestined them to: viz. to be conformed to the image of His Son. Foreordination (or predestination) is NOT about God predestinating people to heaven or hell! God had known beforehand (He foreknew – Ro. 8:29) who would accept Jesus as their savior, and only these people are foreordained – to be conformed to the image of His Son. (As we are going to see, to a certain extent this process can begin here on earth already, but it will be perfected in heaven for sure.)