Understanding the Cross of Christ – Part 4 – (God’s Plan)

This series began in Part One as a search for a more meaningful answer to an aspiring young Christian’s question: “Why did God send His only son to die?”  The short answer “to save us from our sins,” while correct, really only serves to raise more questions.  In part 2, we looked at what sin is, why it matters so much to God, and why it should matter to us.  In part 3, we delved into God’s response to sin.  In all of that discussion, we have made great mention of the fact that God has a plan for our salvation.  Now, in part 4, let us look at how Jesus really fits into that plan.

So how does Jesus fit into this plan of God’s?

If you were to say that Jesus, in fact, is God’s plan for our salvation, you would be correct.  God first promised this savior in Genesis 3:15, when sin first entered the world.  The verse reads in the ESV:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

The enmity that God refers to here is opposition to Satan through the offspring born of the woman.  Clearly, the “he” in the verse that will “bruise your head” is that offspring.  What is meant by bruising the head is the complete victory over the evil one that had the power over death, as told to us in Hebrews 2:14-15.  As for how the Crucifixion can be classified as  the bruising of the heel, consider that Jesus overcame death itself, and that the ultimate fate of Satan is his utter destruction (Revelation 20:10).

There are a great many prophecies throughout the Bible that promise the coming of this Messiah  – many more than we can include in this outline.  But the most important of these is arguably that which is written in 2 Samuel 7, where God makes a covenant with David which promises a kingdom from his offspring that will endure forever.  He would be the son of God (Psalm 2:7).  It is through this offspring of David that the one promised in Genesis 3 will come.  He would be sacrificed for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5-12).  And most importantly, he would be risen from the dead (Psalm 16:10, Psalm 49:15).

Who was Jesus really, and where did He come from?

Let us begin with his name.  Most people know of Him as Jesus Christ.  He has been known this way for so long that many people actually assume that His last name – His surname – was Christ.  But that is, of course, not the case.  Over the years the reference to Him as Jesus the Christ has simply been shortened.  The Hebrew for Messiah and the Greek for Christ (Khristos) both mean anointed or “anointed one.”

Most people know that He was born in Bethlehem of a virgin, and many have wondered what the point is of the long genealogy written in Matthew 1:1-17.   This was to document the fact that Jesus’ birth came forth through the line of King David.  The names of many of those in that genealogical record are found in books of the Bible (the Old Testament) written in the inspired word of God over many hundreds of years.

But though Jesus was born of a woman, just as had been prophesied, that is not the entire significance of His origin.  In John 1:1-18, we are told that before He came to live as a man, Jesus was with God since the beginning of time:

“He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Some say that Jesus never claimed to be deity, but that is certainly not true.  In John 10:30, he told the Jewish leaders at the temple “I and the Father are one.”  And in John 8:58, he told them “before Abraham was, I am,” which was clearly a reference to the way God identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians in Philippians 2:5-8, summed up how much Jesus gave up to come to Earth, to become a man, and to suffer a cruel death:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

As we near the conclusion of this series, we will  examine how Jesus measures up with what the people were expecting from the Messiah that had been anticipated for well over a thousand years, what His death meant then and, more importantly, what it means to us now.

/Bob’s boy

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image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

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John 1 – The Word Became Flesh

The message of the gospel of John can be summed up in one statement – “Jesus is the son of God.”  His gospel is full of passages that illustrate that fact, but nowhere is it made clearer than in the language of chapter 1:1-4.  John leaves no doubt, as it begins with an echo of the opening of the Book of Genesis:

“In the beginning was the Word, and  the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 He was in the beginning with God.
 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

Andrew, Peter’s brother, heard John the Baptist speak. They became disciples of Jesus. Peter, along with James and John formed the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples.

This reference to Jesus as “the Word” has meaning throughout the Old Testament.  Two of many examples are seen as God brings things into existence by His very Word (Genesis 1:3), or accomplishes whatever His purpose may be by His Word, which He sends out (Isaiah 55:10-11).  This is used by John again in his 1st epistle (1 John 1:1-3), as he adds the fact that he and the other apostles had physical contact with this Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Word is also referred to as living and active, for example in Hebrews 4:12.  Jesus confirms that He was with God in the beginning in John 17:5; and John specifically identifies the word in verses 14-17:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. “

John moves swiftly from this powerful and awesome account to the testimony of John the Baptist.  In verses 29-34, this John identifies Jesus as the “Lamb of God” – which they would not yet fully understand – and gives evidence of his own special revelation that he received from God, concerning His son.  In verses 19-23, John the Baptist,appearing before the priests and then the Pharisees, denied that he himself was the Christ, or Elijah.  “The Prophet” that they ask him about could be  a misunderstanding by them of the promise of a “new prophet like me” to lead them, which Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 18:15-16.  He leaves no doubt in verse 23 though, that his baptism is to prepare the way for the Messiah, as he clearly states that he is the one referred to in Isaiah 40:3.

The chapter ends with Jesus calling the first of His disciples, some of which He undoubtedly already had a relationship with.  But Nathanael marvels that he knows him, and realizes that He truly is the Son of God (verses 48-49) because of it.  Jesus tells them that they will see much greater things to come. Verse 51 is a very clear reference to Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28:12.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.